So recently I was asked (by a professional no less) if I had any opinions on how a “normal” mother might improve the health care experience. It took all of my restraint not to laugh-out-loud at this request for two reasons: A) I have opinions on just about everything whether it pertains to me or not, and B) I convinced someone that I was normal! Can you believe it!?! After a self-satisfying smirk and a bit of reflection, I pulled on my problem-solving-panties and contended that – yes … I can fix it!
Jonathan Mead suggested once, that “Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem.” That, however poignant, is not going to fly here Jon, because we all know that trips to the doctor are completely, totally and unalterably unavoidable (especially if you have kids … which I do).
As I said before, this little “fix it” journey began with some deep reflection – scratch that – it was pretty shallow actually, because I was at the doctor’s office two days ago. How can I describe it? Hmmm. I would say that going to the doctor is something like getting a full mental workout. The beginning is a stretch, a test of flexibility as your kids run through the automatic doors, (nearly squelching themselves) and then proceed to, “only step on the red parts of the carpet because those are the boat and the green is the water filled with sharks that will eat you.” Then we move to the warm-up portion of the workout, where the kind, smiling, but slow-as-a-summertime-slug receptionist tells you, “It’ll just be a quick minute while we update your information … we just got a new computer system.”
“Again?” you ask.
“Again,” they confirm with a sympathetic eye roll.
The cardio portion of this exercise begins when you finally turn (folding your gigantic 8 and 1/2 x 11 receipt because no one has figured out how to print smaller ones) to see your kids climbing chair arm over chair arm in some kind of demented race. This does not get your heart racing for the potential danger of them falling, mind you, but rather sends you into a full-on panic attack at the realization that billions of potential-virus-causing-germs are absorbing right into their clammy little hands. Simultaneously, the receptionist asks you if you’ve been to any Ebola affected countries, as the dude next to you sneezes.
To finish off this little extended metaphor, would have to be the cool down – the final portion of your mental workout. Here, the nurse takes vitals, writes down your questions and leaves to give you fifteen minutes of alone time with your kids in a small square room that contains a spinning chair and heightened exam table. Then the doctor comes in to test your stressed memory and asks, “Do you have any questions?”
The thing is, even after all that, I know that deep down I don’t believe in problems; I believe in solutions. So realistic or fantastic (quite possibly somewhere in-between) I have come up with a list of seven (because it is my favorite number) practical (alright maybe completely unpractical but it’s my list so …) ways to fix a visit to the doctor.
1. Provide two reception desk entrances – one for “well-visits” the other for the “not-so-well” visits (aka: those wearing masks when they come through the door!)
2. Have the option of an online check-in system, that way all you need to do is process your payment (And maybe send a digital receipt too … save on the letterhead!)
3. Streamline and re-decorate with hard-surface-only chairs. That way, though we know they may not be sanitized immediately before we come, we know they have less potential for retaining all the nasties fabric chairs can hold.
4. Get rid of swivel chairs. I know you’ve worked many, many years to become a doctor and you’ve earned it, but how about we get you a nice leather office chair that’s stationary? That way, our kids won’t have the potential to need stitches before the visit is over!
5. Physicians, please READ the questions those sweet nurses and technicians write down so we don’t repeat the “Do you have any questions?” question. I know you’re busy and maybe couldn’t read it that fast, but they worked so hard jot it down – at the very least, reading it could be like a mini-handwriting lesson. 🙂
6. Be personable … act like it is a privilege to see us again (even if you’re pretending) because coming to you is like getting called into the principal’s office; even if it’s a good report, we’re nervous every step of “the wait.”
7. Finally, and maybe most importantly, make your carpet ONE color … it’ll avoid our super-rational need to escape the sharks.
And it’s as easy as that. Problem solved! But until the medical world figures out how genius my “fix-it” plan is, be well (mentally and physically … without going mental in the process).