I took the boys to get a flu shot this morning. They're lucky their arms are still attached.
We could have gone to the County Health Center, where flu shots are free for kids up to age 18. But they close at 4:00, and we are usually tied up at school until then. Monday is the shot clinic day, when they're open until 6:00, but the wait is usually over an hour. In a room with screaming two-, four-, and six-month-olds, plus high school sophomores. I nixed that idea.
In years past, I have made an appointment with the boys' regular doctor. Who moved from our town to one twenty miles from home. And last time billed me for one boy's shot, and gave the other for free.
I got mine at my pharmacy on the day I took off. But the pharmacy only gives flu shots from 8:00 to 3:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Newmentia is going to offer flu shots to the faculty for free, because our insurance decided they will cover flu shots this year. The needle technician will bill en masse. Faculty children may also be shot, as long as they are on the teacher's insurance plan. Which my kids are not.
So...in seeking alternatives, I decided upon the local convenient care clinic. I even checked out their website. Saw that flu shots were offered on a walk-in basis. That insurance would be billed, and home billing would ensue if the shot was not covered. Plus, I called to make sure they don't give that darn flu mist to kids, or the attenuated virus, which is live flu virus, people! You are getting the flu injected into your arm if you get that. So you actually get the flu in order to fight off the flu. Go figure. I was assured they were giving the inactive virus vaccine. Which means dead. No chance of catching the flu from that shot. The Saturday hours were from 9:00 to 1:00. These conditions were acceptable.
A bigger cluster-cluck you'll never find than our flu-shot experience today. Well. Unless you work in the public schools of Missouri. Where you will find such situations daily.
When we walked in, there were two people in the waiting room. Together. The receptionist at the window asked why we were there. "I brought my two boys to get a flu shot." She told us to have a seat. No insurance card-taking. No name-asking. No paperwork-giving.
We waited. And waited. I could hear a screaming toddler in the inner exam room. And very clearly the voices of the nurse practitioner and the mom. The kid had a rash due to an allergic reaction to an antibiotic for the fifth ear infection that wouldn't clear up. Also, the otoscope was broken, wouldn't hold a charge, had been on the charger all night, and was dead. A bulb had been replaced in it yesterday. When it worked. A call needed to be made to another branch to inquire as to a back-up otoscope, or the delivery of an alternate otoscope. Kind of a problem when examining a toddler with an ear infection.
The receptionist fiddled about the otoscope. The NP asked for batteries. "Oh, there's some batteries in a cabinet back there." The NP got on the phone herself and called about a back-up. All the while, we sat. The waiting room patient, professed to have a fever of 104 for the last two days, waltzed back and forth in front of us. I held my breath as much as possible, having learned from her mother's cell phone call that she was not herself, and needed a flu swab.
Meanwhile, as we sat, a lady wandered in from the mini mall parking lot and asked if this facility did lab tests, because her insurance had changed, and she needed one within forty-eight hours of seeing her doctor, which would end at 9:50 a.m. Monday. Receptionist told her that indeed, they did do lab tests, but specimens were not picked up on the weekend, but only on weekday afternoons, which was no good for Wanderer. Who inquired as to whether there were any facilities in Arnold that could send off her specimen today. So Receptionist fiddled and faddled on her computer. Then called the NP out of the toddler room to ask. Then told Wanderer no. Who then asked if there was some facility in Festus that would send off her specimen today. So Receptionist fiddled and faddled on her computer. Then called the NP out of the toddler room to ask. Then told Wanderer no. Who then asked if she knew any facility short of a hospital or in St. Louis who could send off her specimen today, such a general question that Receptionist was stumped for a good ten minutes. All the while Patient Zero was standing behind Wanderer, entirely too close to me, shedding her fevered lung-borne respiratory droplets for me to inhale. In order for Receptionist to ignore us paying or insurance-paying patients to assist a woman off the street who was in no way, shape, or form bringing any revenue into the facility.
Finally Wanderer took her specimen-giving butt out the door. Patient Zero handed in her paperwork and paraded back in front of us to her waiting seat. By now we had been sitting for 23 minutes. Receptionist went into the toddler room and shut the door. NP came out and said someone should be with us shortly. Then she went in the toddler room and Receptionist came out. Five minutes later she called me to the window to get names. Asked if both boys had been there before. Yes. Took the insurance card. Gave me the vaccine checklist and permission form. Then told me they were having trouble with the computer system.
NP came out to find some antidote for the toddler spots. Receptionist asked her what was with all the people coming in lately wanting lab tests sent off. NP said, "That's Obamacare for you." She went back in the toddler room. Receptionist came out and handed me TWO CLIPBOARDS with FOUR PAGES EACH for patient information. I said, "I could have been doing this for the last half hour instead of just sitting here." Receptionist apologized. Because it was the computer's fault. And I could leave the insurance part blank. She would scan the insurance card.
A new diseased man came in complaining of fever, congestion, and chest pain since last night. His wife was given a clipboard forthwith to fill out information. She was done before me. Toddler was sent on her way. Patient Zero was called back. We could all hear clearly that she had tachycardia that was not improving. That she was on birth control, which made her susceptible to blood clots. That her rapid strep and flu swab were negative. That she needed to go to a real ER and get checked out.
NP came out and Receptionist darted into the patient room. NP came out to the waiting room and rolled her eyes. Apologized to me about the wait. Said things had been going this way all morning. Went back into the exam room. Receptionist came out. Patient Zero breathed her way past me out the door. NP called the local ER to report that she was sending a patient their way, and not to slough her off, she needed a thorough evaluation.
The Diseased Man's wife asked if she knew me. Said she used to play softball on a team with me. Whee doggies! She was right. We reminisced for a minute. I told her we had been there forever before getting our paperwork. She was lucky to get hers right off.
I finished my multipage patient info documents. Got my insurance card back. Heard NP telling Receptionist that nobody used those kind of needled any more. But that they would work for a flu shot. NP took a phone call. Patient Zero and her mom were headed to the wrong ER. Back and forth about should they turn around and go to the one that was expecting them, or continue to the other one that might dismiss her as just a fever. Thank the Gummi Mary for patient confidentiality, huh?
Finally, NP called the boys back for their shots. Sixty seconds for each.
"That was quick!" grinned my former teammate.