Getting a diagnosis can be painful these days
The state of health care in 2019 America as experienced by one couple in a two-out-of-five-star hospital. The nurse was working at one of those medical places, you know the self-standing less-than-emergency rooms where there are no doctors, but where you go when you are feeling poorly but don’t want to spend hours in a noisy, sneezy, petri dish hospital waiting room only to be told nothing is wrong and you should see your doctor in the morning, even though “the morning” is Sunday and our doctor is on the Cape with all the other doctors. The nurse was most pleasant and caring, obviously knowledgeable and experienced, but she couldn’t provide the one thing we needed, which was an ultrasound to make sure a discolored swollen ankle was not harboring a killer blood clot. The only place that could help, she said, was, you guessed it, a hospital. So across town we trekked, checking in at the emergency room, and being ushered to a back room where they stow people who have need of just one specific test. A youngish male nurse named Frankie tossed a sheet on a gurney, took the patient’s vitals, and said someone would be along presently to take us to the ultrasound room. The wait was not horrific, and soon enough we were in and out, back on the same gurney in the same room. Frankie reemerged, only to flee like a frightened bunny when a somewhat older man in cutoffs, sandals and a mussed shirt arrived and began looking at the charts. The new guy had a hospital badge clipped to his collar identifying him as an “advanced provider,” which I assume meant not a doctor, which, incidentally, we never did see. I asked, in my best journalistic manner, what an “advanced provider” was and he said, I kid you not, “Something between a nurse and a doctor.” And so the trend toward twisting the English language in order to obfuscate escalates. The provider did say he took some extra courses after being a nurse, but cut the conversation there. I looked up the title on the hospital’s website and read a lot of doctor jargon, but got no more information, save to learn there are Advanced Providers I and Advanced Providers II. The pay is way up there, around $200,000. Our provider did say that if the test came back negative, he’d be done with us. It did and he was. We went home, knowing only that a blood clot was not involved. We have no idea what caused the ugly ankle. The lady at the health clinic did call in prescriptions for bad coughs we both were suffering — to a pharmacy that is closed on weekends. No relief for three more days. We have appointments with our doctor in a few days. We will suggest that finding out what is going on would be nice.