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From the Editor's Desk

I should stay away from waiting rooms

by Dennis Ernst • January 08, 2019

Editor's Desk

Dennis Ernst Casual portrait


After being sick for seven days with my annual respiratory crud that seems to find me no matter where I live, I finally broke down and went to the doctor. Mind you, I don't have a doctor since I've only lived in Michigan for a year now, but was able to find an local practitioner who took me as a walk-in. I think there was something predestined in my timing.

After checking in, I sat down and waited my turn. Since waiting rooms are perfect opportunities to be productive, I brought along a hard copy of the CLSI skin puncture standard currently under revision in preparation for a gathering of the committee in a few weeks. I was well into it when a gentleman walked in and asked if he could have some fasting labs drawn in advance of an appointment he had on Monday. They turned him away saying they don't have anyone to draw blood on Saturdays, and asked if he could come back on Monday.

To just sit there and let him be turned away was more than I could stand, but I also knew what an oddity I would have made of myself to the desk clerk and other patients if I were to stand up and offer to draw his blood for them. I went back to my work on GP42. The gentleman went out to the entrance foyer and placed a phone call, then returned to the desk.
"I have to work Monday and my appointment is right after I get off," he said. "I don't think I can come back before then." They suggested he drive to another outpatient clinic a half-hour away where a phlebotomist was on staff.

I was called into an exam room and greeted by "Mary" who took my vitals and recorded my symptoms for the doctor in advance. She was a pleasant gal and probably a medical assistant, but I don't know that for sure.
"The doctor will be right in," she said, then opened the door to leave. About that time I heard someone say "Mary, you have a lab draw to do."
"Ugh!" Mary grunted in disgust.
I felt sorry for the poor man who was about to be stuck by someone who had such a reaction. Even more so if he, too, overheard her reaction.

I now am on the requisite antibiotics and feel much better. But Saturday's encounter became an immediate calling for me. If I'm going to live in this community, I need to share what I know to improve the quality of health here. For me, that means improving the availability of lab draws to those who need them and the confidence of those tasked with performing them, especially since I'll be one of their patients.

I don't need another job, nor do I want to spend my Saturdays drawing blood in a clinic. But this much I know for certain: I was brought to live in this area for a reason, a purpose for which I knew not when we chose this community 16 months ago over all the other ones we considered from Maine to Montana. Over the last year, that purpose is slowly being revealed in multiples. I'll be going back in March for my new-patient appointment and will offer my service to the physician, then let things unfold as they may... or may not. I'm not invested in the outcome either way.

The only outcome I care about is that I'm doing that which I was brought here to do. Discovering just what that is is making this a very interesting time of life. I'll keep you posted.



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