Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ugh...allergies and shots and the Health Department

My allergies are killing me this week. I don't know what's in bloom but I don't like it one bit.
This week I heard from Drew that I need to be vaccinated for meningitis and tested for tuberculosis and send them my shot record...for an online doctoral program. Silly New Jersey law about incoming college students. Of course, the doctor's office doesn't have the meningitis vaccine, so I have to go to the health big deal, right?
Except that it took over 2 hours. I'm hoping there was another entrance to the clinic besides the main one, because as near as I could tell from who else was in the waiting room yesterday, the 10-12 staff members that I saw/heard managed to accomplish 2 prenatal visits and 4 sets of routine vaccinations in the space of about two and a half hours. That's way too long.
Now, the staff was unfailingly polite, even when I begam to get a little snarky. When the two people who came in after me for vaccines were taken ahead of me, I said, "You know, I'm starting to feel a little neglected here. I hope my turn comes up soon." I did say it nicely, with some humor, but I was feeling very crabby. Even so, there was no question that most of the folks there dealt with me in a professional manner. BUT I was so glad that I wasn't dependent on them for healthcare.
It seems to me that the population served by the Health Department Clinic for the bulk of their medical care is the group most likely to be working as much as they are able for an hourly wage. I am salaried, and so I didn't lose anything except time. But if I were, every hour I spent there would mean lost wages and possibly food, medication, gas, etc. that I might not be able to pay for. In a society as wealthy as ours is, shouldn't our county government be capable of setting high standards for care, and meeting them? (My inner idealist comes out...)
I just think that we can and should do better. If we value providing health care to people who are otherwise underserved, then we should do it well. If it is important to us to restrict certain vaccines to the county/state health departments, then they should be administered well...and unless there's a major rush on, I don't believe it should take 2 hours of waiting to spend no more than 10 minutes of actual face-time with the receptionist, billing/insurance person, and technician who administered the shot. And what if I were really sick, and really needed to be seen so I could go back to work and earn enough to feed my family? I can certainly understand why people don't want to go, and complain about it when they dinner wasn't at stake.
Okay, rant over. :)

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