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Unfiltered Story #294075

, , | Unfiltered | June 18, 2023

The vaccine for [pandemic illness] has just started rolling out to clinics around the US. Since the vaccine in distributed by the state, people who qualify – 70 and older at this stage – make their appointments through the state website. This means the clinic does not have access to the schedule as we do for our regular patients, so we have no way of checking a person’s appointment for the vaccine.
Also of relevance is the clinic’s ever-adapting policy for check-in during the pandemic. Patients are told to park and call a specific number that rings on designated check-in phone (different from our internal clinic phones). The front desk people answer the phones, ask them screening questions to confirm that they are not sick, then (assuming they answer no to all the questions) the patient is asked to enter the first lobby area where someone will take their temperature before bringing them to a room for their appointment. We also have 3 other locations in different towns, each about 30-50 minutes from my location.
The first week of the vaccine roll-out, I answer a call at the check-in phone.

Me: (standard spiel for answering phone)
Man: Hi, I have an appointment tomorrow for a [pandemic illness] vaccine, and I just want to make sure I’m in the right place so I know where to go for tomorrow.

The clinic I am located at is not giving vaccines tomorrow. I check with one of my coworkers, and they say that a different clinic in [town about 40 minutes away] is giving the vaccines tomorrow. I tell him this, but he is adamant he is scheduled at this clinic. He even gives the address for my clinic as the one where he scheduled the appointment. I can tell he’s reading the information from something, so I decide I need to look at whatever he is reading.

Me: Okay, sir, I’m gonna have you come into the clinic so we can get this figured out for you.
Man: Wonderful! Thank you so much!

I ask him all the screening questions and tell him to walk in up to the front desk. After I hang up, I watch him through the windows as he walks in the door. Our clinic is one “office” within a building that also houses other state offices, so there is a lobby for the building, then a lobby for the clinic past a door right next to the main entrance. He doesn’t seems to notice this, and proceeds to walk back to where the other state offices are. I get up and chase him down. He seems relieved to be guided. I take his temperature and bring him to the clinic front desk.
He has a card in his hand, and I ask to see it. When he hands it to me, I notice that it is basically an advertisement for the vaccine that was mailed to him by the state. It is official, not a scam. On it, someone has written a date, a time, and my clinic’s address. The date is for a couple of weeks out, on a day that my clinic is, in fact, giving the vaccine. Not tomorrow.
I tell him all this, emphasizing that the date is actually a Monday on [date], not tomorrow, a Friday. I also tell him that he is at the correct spot and explain what the process will be like on the day of his appointment. He seems content with the information. He thanks me for helping him out and leaves. I never got his name.

The next day, I answer a call on the check-in phone.

Man, after my answering spiel: Yes, my name is [name], and I have an appointment for a flu shot at [time].

I check the schedule, and he’s not on it. The next step would be to look up the patient in our system and check their appointments.

Me: Okay, sir, what is your date of birth?
Man: It’s [date], 1948 (making him 72 years old).
Me: Okay, I don’t see you in our system. Are you sure you were scheduled at [Name of our clinic]?
Man: Yes, I’m sure. I was here yesterday, and I talked to someone up front. There were three of you ladies up front.

This is accurate, as there are three female front desk workers that were all working yesterday.

Me: Okay, do you remember who you talked to?
Man: No, I never got her name. Yesterday was the first time I’d been here, but I wouldn’t think they would make me an appointment if I wasn’t in the system.
Me: I agree with you there.
Man: Look, I took the whole day off work.
Me: Well, hopefully we can get something worked out for you. I’m gonna have to ask around the clinic and see what I can figure out. What’s a good phone number for you so you don’t have to wait on hold for too long?
Man: Oh, I don’t remember my phone number. I never call myself!

I hear him shuffling around as if he’s trying to figure out how to find his phone number.

Man: Oh! I was looking for my phone just now, and it’s in my hand! I’ll have to turn it off to find the number.
Me, knowing that won’t be much help: You know what? I can just come out to you when I figure something out. Which car are you in? Are you in one of our numbered parking spots?
Man: Yes, I’m in your parking lot, parked in front of a sign.
Me: Okay, is there a number on it?
Man: Yes.
Me: Which number?
Man: Number 3.
Me: Alrighty, I’ll come out to you when I figure something out. [hangs up]

I go and find one of the providers that was working yesterday and ask her if she knows anything about a man here for a flu shot. She says no. I tell her that he’s not in the system and that I looked under his name, verifying the spelling, and date of birth. She says that I should tell him that he needs to fill out registration paperwork to become a patient here and that we could get him a flu shot today if he wants it since it only takes a few minutes. Before I go to tell him, one of the administrators for the clinic seems to sense that something is wrong and tells me to bring him so she can talk to him. Relieved, I go out to get him. I ask him all the screening questions, take his temperature, and lead him inside. The administrator sits down with him in the clinic lobby to discuss becoming a patient here, and I go back to my desk that is more of less out of earshot of the lobby.
After I bit, I overhear the administrator talking about [pandemic illness] vaccine. Strange, he said he was here for a flu shot. I think since the man was over 70 that the administrator was telling him that he was also eligible for the [pandemic illness] vaccine if he wanted it.
After the man leaves, I go to ask her what happened as the man was never brought back for a flu shot nor entered into the system. Her face turns a bit sad as she tells me that he was actually here for a [pandemic illness] vaccine and had gotten confused. Only then did it click in my mind that this man was the same one from yesterday, and I hadn’t recognized him! I relay to the administrator what happened with him the day before, and she nods sadly.
The man had dementia and was very confused about his appointment, what day it was, and what it was for. The administrator expressed that she was worried about him driving considering his mental state, but he had insisted that he would be fine. He had been able to get from home, to us, and back the previous day, so hopefully he would be fine doing the same on this day. Hopefully we will see him again on the correct day for his vaccine.

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