I hope you had a terrific week. I’ve been busy, writing a lot, and am on the move again. I was saddened by the recent act of violence in France, and I hope that the French elections will happen peacefully.
I had an experience last week that was so frustrating I wanted to share it with you, as I think we all run into similar experiences now. One of my children needed some ongoing health maintenance care (nothing too serious, but worth doing), and I decided to contact both of the big highly respected university hospitals in San Francisco. Both offer top notch care and are respected well known institutions. I didn’t have a name of who to call, so decided to call the right department in each hospital, which seemed like a simple project, to gather information, and who might offer the most appropriate options for health care. It was not a life threatening situation, but important enough to me to warrant some research on the subject. And bluntly put, I ran into a wall. A call that should have taken maybe ten minutes to each hospital, took me SIX AND A HALF HOURS of constant calling and total frustration before I ever got to speak to a human at one hospital, and never got to one at all at the other. I went from one robot voice to the next, got shifted into dead end extensions, reached voice mails in some cases, pressed buttons, called new numbers, and it went on and on and on and on, until I finally reached a human at one of the two hospitals, and no one at the other. At the hospital where I got no human after all my calls, someone finally called me back the next day to tell me that my child had JUST missed the age cut off and they made no exceptions, that they were not accepting new patients anyway, but would call me back in six months, in October, to then put us on a wait list which was going to be at least six months long, but I MIGHT be able to get an appointment NEXT April, maybe, but maybe not until next July (NOT this July!!). So we’re talking about waiting 12 to 15 months before we could see a doctor. At the other hospital, when I finally reached a living person and not a recording or a robot after six and a half hours on the phone, they gave me great information, had someone call me back within the hour who was absolutely wonderful and we got an appointment for 3 days later. What a difference between the two, but I still had to spend almost seven hours on the phone, determined to fight my way through the maze of cyberhell to get the information we needed. I dropped everything I was doing that day to do it. What happens if you don’t have the time or patience, can’t spend 7 hours on the phone, don’t understand the messages or the system, or never get lucky enough to reach a human? What do people do? Forget it? Give up? Not get medical help when they need it? I don’t think my experience was unique. And what are you supposed to do with a 15 month wait to see a doctor?? It reminded me of when I was working on the streets with the homeless, would refer them for medical care, and they would sometimes be put on a wait list for 8 to 18 months, most of them would have been dead at the end of that time, and some were. I think it’s a terrible statement about how we have mis-used technology, to build an impenetrable wall around services we need, medical people we can’t reach, where we get fobbed off with waiting lists of more than a year, IF they even bother to call you back. What happens to people who don’t understand the messages, can’t make themselves understood to a robot, and just don’t have the tenacity or skills to get through? I became so determined I was not going to give up until I got someone. It also showed me the difference between the two institutions, one where they leapt in to help us once I reached them, the other where they simply didn’t care and fobbed us off for 15 months, or would have, except that we had missed the age limit by a few months. Then what?? You just live with the problem. In the era of high technology health care, with such enormous advancements in science and health and new information, what good does it do us if we can’t even reach health care providers, and get pushed off on a wait list for more than a year? I found the whole experience shocking. And I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I was to actually reach a human, who was nice, helpful, and gave us an appointment.
And if this is how we treat humans now at medical institutions, I can’t even think about what it is like trying to get your washing machine repaired or call a plumber. Everything is voice mail and robots now, press #1 for this and #5 for that, where you get nowhere and no one calls you back, or it disconnects, or shifts you entirely into the wrong service, and there is no one to explain it to. There is something VERY wrong with our systems if we have used technology to make life this complicated, and replaced human beings with machines that don’t “get it”. Whose life have we simplified with this?? Certainly not ours. I was so grateful for the help I got, and shocked at how hard it was to cut through the red tape in Cyberhell. What can we do about it? How can we change it? Is this how it’s going to be now? It was one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve had in years, and I think we all run into it now. Some of the old systems, which actually used humans, worked so much better!!!
Have a great week, and stay out of Cyberhell, if we can!!
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I have a system I use to deal with these situations: I try to figure out what they, the company, would be most interested in me for? Phone and insurance companies, for example, don’t want to cancel service, so I always press the number that leads you to the “New customer” or “To upgrade.” Once I reach a life person they are able to transfer me to wherever I need. Not always, as sometimes I end up at the voicemail or “closed for the day” corner. Still, when you talk to a real person things get done easier.
With your standing in the community, I hope you place a call and or write a letter to the presidents of both hospitals, and then send them to the local newspapers.
Is worse when after so much pressing #1 or #2 and music and more press#3 blah blah you finally reach a person….and then you get disconnected. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
“What happens to people who don’t understand the messages, can’t make themselves understood to a robot, and just don’t have the tenacity or skills to get through?”
Sorry about all the chaos with the hospital and you child. I hear you.
Perhaps “Love” can also be a healer.
Saint Teresa (former Mother Teresa) was often criticized for not passing out pain killers, etc., in the slums of Calcutta when helping the so-called “throw away of societies.”
She also stated that “there is no greater suffering than feeling alone, unloved and unwanted.”
Thus she gave them the most important healer of all which is Love.
As Elton John stated, Love is the cure.
That love is there even in our pain.
Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity to All Mankind,
Prayers for Paris
“PARIS — France paused from its intense focus on the presidential campaign on Tuesday to honor Xavier Jugelé, the veteran police officer who was shot and killed during a terrorist attack on the Champs-Élysées last week.”
“The New York Times”
APRIL 25, 2017
“Addressing mourners at Paris police headquarters, Etienne Cardiles spoke of his “extreme pain” at the death of his partner, who had campaigned for LGBT rights within the police force.”
– “The Advocate”
Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL Mankind.
How true! This impersonal cyberhell is one of the symptoms of the destruction of our civilization. We can see an ongoing lack of compassion across all segments of society. I live in Cleveland, the home of the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic which advertises same day physician appointments.
In December, my daughter was home visiting from college. She had been suffering from daily headaches for several months. I called the “same day” hotline, was asked for mine and my daughter’s entire health history, personal information, insurance information. I was transferred from department to department. After being on the phone for over thirty minutes, I was told that the earliest appointment I could get was in six moths. I explained that my daughter lives out of town and would not be in Cleveland in six months. They could care less.
As a society we need to make a concerted effort to view each person as an individual and with compassion. Without compassion, technology and “efficiency” are useless.
I just finished reading His Bright Light. It has been the saddest book I’ve ever read. Especially toward the end. The moment he was gone and you found out and when you told your kids. From that moment I couldn’t read it with dry eyes. He was such a beautiful soul. I’m so sorry this happened to you but I am so glad that he was born from you and you got to be the one giving him 19 years of understanding, caring and love. He was so lucky to be born in such a beautiful family and you all were lucky that you got to have him with you …even for such a short time.
I AGREE 100%!!!!!!!!!
Thank you for sharing this experience. I couldn’t agree more about the lack of a live human on phone lines. From my personal experiences, I find it complicates things more, makes the wait longer, and just generally leaves me with an aggravating experience. Your story was crazy, but does not surprise me. I applaud you for your perseverance in waiting.
I had a terrible experience last summer. I am on the Affordable Care Act. A few years ago, when it came into being, my perfectly good, until that point, insurance dropped me and would no longer insure me. As an “individual” it’s a gray area at times to get insurance. I went along with the ACA for a few years, not really enjoying it.
Well, last summer, I was dropped just like that, my premiums were all up to date, etc. I couldn’t even get on my Health Insurance Website! When I called my insurance company, they could not give me a reason for this! Talk about a frustrating experience, to say nothing of a worrisome experience.
To sum it up: Periodically, the ACA does “checks” on people to make sure they are meeting all the credentials to be on board for that. I don’t have a problem with that, but I was certainly meeting all the proper requirements, etc. and had no warning about this. I was dropped mid stream. It wasn’t until I called people that run the ACA website that I was told what happened. Fortunately, I was quickly reinstated, and was told if I had needed medical care during this time, think hospitalization,
my insurance would have been retroactive. Who needed the stress of that.
And by the way, I’m paying a very high premium on the ACA, much more than I was paying prior with my better insurance that I was dropped from.
What a mess.