February 10, 2023

A Hospital Adventure

Moving to a new town requires finding new sources of goods and services—doctors, mechanics, food stores, clothing stores, etc. Yesterday, I had my first visit with my new primary care physician. Because I had been experiencing knee pain, he ordered X-rays of the troublesome joint.

This morning, I walked to Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic to have the ordered images taken. This was convenient, as the hospital is directly behind my apartment building. Although I can see the hospital from my building, my doctor had to tell me how to get into it, as the main entrance is not visible from my building.

I negotiated the revolving door, entered the lobby, and donned the required mask. I explained the reason for my visit to the receptionist, who directed me to another reception desk at a different entrance. I found that quickly enough and explained why I was there. The receptionist tried to find me in her computer system. I told her I likely wouldn’t be found, as I had never had any contact with the hospital or the hospital system of which it was a part. (I would have been totally freaked out had she discovered information about me on her computer.) Once she concluded that I was not in the system she excused herself and left through a nearby door. She returned in a few moments and invited me to follow her. I was handed off to a man in a small office who was apparently going to check me in.

My communication with this clerk began predictably enough. I gave him the order from my doctor and answered questions about my Social Security number, marital status, and so forth. At some point, however, he was clearly having trouble entering the needed information into his computer. He excused himself, presumably to get some advice, and soon returned to his desk. I was surprised that whatever he needed to do did not seem routine, and I expressed my surprise at his difficulties. He told me that new patients do not often present themselves. (Well, that was interesting!)

We made some progress in the intake interview but ran into another snag. The clerk excused himself and returned with another person or two. (I wasn’t keeping track.) Before I knew it, four people were trying to help my perplexed clerk. This collective was able to move the process along, and the four outsiders left the room.  It wasn’t long before this process had to be repeated. The clerk left the room and returned with one helper, who was soon joined by another. Together, they seem to have concluded that the computer system understood that I was at the hospital but did not know why. Entering information about my X-ray needs seemed to have unblocked the intake process. (This step actually did require all three people to complete.) The helpers left, I was required to sign a few documents, and I was handed a piece of paper that was my ticket to the radiology department.

The clerk walked me to the hallway and directed me to radiology. He apologized profusely for my having to wait so long to be checked in and thanked me for my patience. I replied that the delay was no problem and was actually very amusing. Checking in had taken about 45 minutes.

In the radiology waiting room, I handed in my paperwork and took a seat, expecting to read a bit of the book I had brought along. I had read perhaps one paragraph when I was called for my X-rays. Happily, I did not need to undress or put on a hospital gown; all I had to do was stand in front of the X-ray machine. The process took perhaps five minutes. It took longer than that for me to find my way back to the main entrance.

When I next have business at the hospital, I expect that check-in will be easier. 

Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic
Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic

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