Unfiltered Story #177742

, , | Unfiltered | November 20, 2019

(My mom is a rheumatologist with her own practice, and I usually help out at the front desk whenever I have school holidays. Since my family is Chinese-American, many of my mother’s patients are elderly senior-home residents who only speak some form of Chinese and come to their appointments alone, without an English-speaking friend or relative. I cannot imagine how the regular front desk staff communicates with these patients without understanding Chinese based on my experiences with them with one female patient in particular. So far, she has dumped a pile of plastic cards onto the counter and understands that I speak Mandarin rather poorly.)
Me: Ma’am, which one of these cards is your primary insurance card?
Elderly Patient: I don’t know, but my daughter probably does. *pulls out an old cellphone and a piece of paper with many telephone numbers scribbled onto it.* Can you please call my daughter for me?
(By this time, the waiting room is getting kind of crowded. Even though it is our business to check with the insurance company what a patient’s primary insurance is, it is the patient’s responsibility to contact their own relatives and transportation. However, since the elderly patient is starting to panic, I dial her daughter’s number into the cellphone and hand it over to her so I can register others while she is calling. She is still speaking loudly by the time everyone is seated and is clearly disturbing the other patients.)
Other Patient: *obviously fed up* Can you please tell her to take her call outside or something?
Me: I’m sorry, ma’am. Yes, of course. *to the elderly patient* Ma’am, may you please take your call outside? Ma’am?
(The elderly patient shushes me and continues her loud conversation, which is not even about her insurance anymore, in the office for another five minutes. Finally, somehow, we sort her insurance situation out.)
Me: Next time you have a call, can you please take it outside? We don’t want to disturb the other patients.
Elderly Patient: Oh, okay. I didn’t know that was a rule in your office.
(I’m not surprised that she doesn’t realize it’s more of a common courtesy thing in America, but I’m tired and I really don’t feel like correcting her. The rest of her appointment goes smoothly on my part until the end, when my mother comes out of the examination room with a very annoyed expression and tells me to make the patient’s next appointment.)
Elderly Patient: *shoves the same cellphone and the same telephone-numbered paper into my hands* Young lady, since the doctor won’t do it, can you call my driver for me now?