Saturday, May 9, 2009

Confusion at Credit Valley

Two weeks ago we received notification from the company that supplies the oxygen condenser and the oxygen tanks here at our home that, as of the end of May, the three-month government funding would be over unless it could be proven that I still needed it.  For that, we needed to have our medical providers perform some tests and send them off for approval. 

So, a week ago we spoke to our doctor about this and he assured us that there would be no problem and that they would arrange for us to meet the respiratory technicians the following week for the necessary tests.  Don’t worry about it, he said.

We arrive this Thursday, confident that everything would be ready.  It soon become obvious that that nothing had been arranged.  Indeed, it appeared that they had completely forgotten about what we had talked about.  But since I had to come back to the hospital the following day for a blood transfusion (my haemoglobin levels had fallen to a level where it was needed), that they would arrange for me to meet the technicians for the test then.  Don’t worry about it. we were told.  “we’ll take care of it.  We’ll come up and talk to you during your transfusion and we’ll take care it tomorrow.”

Uh huh.  I show up for and get my transfusion and despite repeated requests for the the doctor's assistant to come and see me to tell me what was going on (which she assured me she would do the day before), she never shows up.  She doesn’t answer anyone’s messages on her voicemail.  No one knows where she is.  And no else seems to know anything.  Again, it appears that no one did anything! 

Finally, just as I am wrapping up my transfusion after being in the hospital for four hours, a nurse shows up to tell me that I have been booked for an appointment with the respiratory technicians on June 4, five days after the funding ends! 

Don’t worry, the nurse says.  It’s all under control.  That was when I said, “I am not that confident of that.” I reminded her that the doctor had known of this for two weeks and he and his staff had done virtually nothing despite their repeated assurances that everything was under control. She looked embarrassed. 

Later that day, I received a call from the doctor’s office, admitting that they had dropped the ball and that this kind of request was actually a rather new thing for them (which is odd for a palliative care department, I thought).  They assured me that they would meet with the technicians this coming week and see what they could do to get it straightened out before I lose my access to the oxygen equipment before the end of the month.  I really do need it and we aren’t exactly independently wealthy enough to cover the expense of this equipment (which I am told is quite pricey).

What annoys me is the tendency of professionals to fake competence. How I wished that they had admitted up-front that this was new to them instead of repeatedly telling me not to worry and pretending to know what they were doing.  I could have handled a little uncertainty if I knew that they were seeking to answer my questions.  But to pretend to be in control and then drop the ball not once, or twice but three times before finally coming clean…well, that undermines trust at a serious level.  And trust is something that is very much needed for folks in situations like ours. 

Give me honest ignorance any day over faked competence.

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