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Doctor at a distance

July 14, 2014
by Kathleen Mears
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When I moved to this facility almost four years ago, I had to find new doctors. I made an appointment with a female breast oncologist at a major university medical center's satellite office 50 miles away. A year later, her practice was relocated to a breast center closer to the university's campus.

Although I had someone to drive me there, the new location was even farther away from my facility. I scheduled appointments for late morning to have sufficient time to get ready and travel there. The new breast center was not what I anticipated. While there were free coffee, tea and snacks, there was little for waiting patients to do. Cancer treatment facilities usually do not have a TV in the waiting area, since news is considered stressful. There were no Wi-Fi signs and no aquarium for distraction.

I saw that oncologist once a year and was there for more than three hours each time. Six months later, my appointment with the nurse practitioner took at least two hours. When my appointment was over, my driver and I were hungry and thirsty. To avoid rush hour traffic, we immediately headed toward the facility and stopped for lunch on the way. We usually got back after 5 p.m.

In April, I had an oncology appointment scheduled. I was to travel by ambulette with the facility's medical transportation aide accompanying me. I asked if we could eat a fast food lunch after my appointment and then call the ambulette for the return trip. I had done that at a previous facility when an aide traveled with me to a medical appointment, which took much of the day. That way, I do not have to return to the facility hungry and find no aide available to feed me.

While I was not given a definite answer about eating lunch after my appointment, I was told dietary could make me a brown bag lunch, which the medical transportation aide could feed me in the ambulette during the ride back. However, I was afraid eating while riding might make me queasy.

Travel time and the long waiting time made me want to locate an oncologist closer to me. I called the breast oncologist's office, explained my situation, thanked them for their care and was referred to an oncologist 25 miles from the facility.

A friend took me to my first appointment in May. We arrived at the medical center parking lot in less than 45 minutes. My appointment was over in two hours. My friend and I did have lunch out afterwards. But in the future, unless there is a delay, I should be back at the facility in time for a late lunch.

Changes in my life caused me to find an oncologist closer to me. I no longer dread going to my oncology appointments.



Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...