Patience Tested

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While the Affordable Care Act claims to deliver affordable health coverage to the multitude, that doesn’t necessarily equate to quality care. I spent over an hour attempting to get a simple flu shot from a Walgreens Health Clinic. If you been to any Rite Aid, CVS or Walgreens pharmacy, you probably know the drill: walk-in, fill out a few simple forms, drop your insurance card, get the shot and get out. Seems simple enough, but not always.

My Walgreens Health Clinic receptionist had a piss poor attitude. As Zig Ziglar once parsed, somebody licked all the red off her candy. She could brighten a room – simply by leaving it. Ms. Happy first asked if I was close to like 200 years old. Anyone over 200 doesn’t require a flu-shot. Ok, it was actually 60 years old, but hey, I have some artistic license. Still, I was comforted by the fact I wasn’t over 200, but I was within the recommended flu shot age range. However, upon starting to complete my information, she feel asleep. Right there on the desk, in front of customers. She took a snooze. There was no, “Excuse me sir, I need to take a five minute nap. I’ll be right back.” None of that. Just zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Upon awaking from her brief siesta, Ms. Happy informed me the flu shot may cause symptoms including terrible headaches, hideous body aches, major respiratory distress and general malaise. While these symptoms may appear indistinguishable from the flu, rest assured it isn’t the flu.

Then the computer fried … literally. Thus, all my medical information, including first pet, last time I ate salad, last year’s Super Bowl winner and who shot J.R. was lost in the cloud. So, Ms. Happy borrowed another terminal from another associate and repeated the process. However, the other associate wasn’t at all happy sharing and requested the Walgreens Manager to contact the corporate gods, whether they be in the United States or Canada, because she wasn’t sure and get someone to fix the deceased technology.

By this time three more Health Clinic customers registered, one with a screaming child and another older gentleman who must have been a Chicagoan. Only Chicagoans repeat questions, as part of the answer. For instance, a sample of the conversation between Ms. Happy and the older gentleman proceeded accordingly:

“May I have your name sir?”

“My name?” replied the gentleman.

“Yes,” Ms. Happy replied. “What is your name?”

“My name, eh?” he quipped. “My name’s Walter.”

“And your last name?” she queried.

“My last name?” he muttered. “Jones.”

Realizing Ms. Happy was nearing postal, I kindly suggested the elder gentleman give Ms. Happy his identification card thereby speeding the process. By this time, the Walgreens manager returned with some bad news. The corporate Gods … whether they were in Canada or the United States, for he didn’t know, had issued a work order, but it would take five days for someone to diagnose.

So I queried, “You mean to say that Walgreens, whose business is healthcare, cannot repair an essential piece of equipment sooner?”

“Hmm,” he internalized. “Yeah, that sounds pretty bad. Doesn’t it.

Think so?” I responded.

Having worked in healthcare for the last eight years, I thought of Jean-Paul Sartre writing, “L’enfer, c’est les autres” –“Hell is other people.” However, the Buddhist in me says “hell is something we create and then blame others.” Not hating a specific moment isn’t all there is to patience. We must become mindful of others and respond to their needs with kindness.

Sir?” said the Walgreens Manager as I snapped back from random thoughts.

I’m sorry. Yes?

Why don’t you check in at the Pharmacy?” he directed. “They perform flu shots.

Oh, thank you sir. I will.

Darting to the Pharmacy, the Pharmacist introduced himself,

Hi. I’m Jeff. How can I help you?

Thank you sir. I would like to get a flu shot.

Oh that’s great,” the Pharmacist said excitedly. “Have you checked in at our top of the line Health Clinic?

…. Patience ….



Categories: Do No Harm, Life Lessons

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