This Hospital Is Really Going Down The Toilet

, , , | Healthy | December 1, 2020

When I am a student, I take a summer job working as a temporary admin person in a local hospital. The first week or so involves just sitting in a file room sorting through old files, but then I am taken off this job and put on the outpatients’ reception, as the regular receptionist is going on holiday.

A couple of days into my stint as receptionist, one of the medical secretaries comes to see me. 

Secretary: “[Gastroenterologist] is off sick today with gastroenteritis and his clinic has therefore been cancelled. I’ve phoned all his patients and told them, but one or two slipped through the net due to their contact details being out of date. If any patients do turn up for [Gastroenterologists]’s clinic, please explain that the doctor was off sick, apologise for the inconvenience, reassure them that they will be given a replacement appointment when the doctor returns to work, and then try to update their contact details.”

The first couple of patients who arrive for this clinic are really understanding. They accept my apology, acknowledge that “these things happen,” and happily allowed me to take their up-to-date contact details. Then, I have THIS patient.

She is an older lady, probably in her early to mid-seventies, and she turns up with her daughter. She hands me her letter, and when I see she’s arrived for the gastroenterology clinic, I begin my usual spiel.

Me: “Ah, I’m very sorry, but we’ve actually had to cancel the clinic today. The doctor has phoned in sick, so he’ll not be back to work for a couple of days at least.”

Daughter: “Oh, dear!”

Her mother looks crestfallen. I apologise again for the inconvenience, reassure her that we’ll be giving her a replacement appointment as soon as the doctor is back to work, and explain that the reason we didn’t tell her about the cancellation was that we were unable to get hold of her. She gives me her up-to-date address and telephone number, which I put in her file, and then she starts complaining about being badly treated.

Woman: “I don’t understand how you people can do this to me! I’m an elderly lady! I can’t just travel up and down to the hospital for appointments!”

Me: *Staying calm* “Yes, I really do understand. To be honest, if I was in your position, I’d be upset, too, but unfortunately, there isn’t anything else we can do.”

The daughter still looks completely calm.

Daughter: “We’re getting another appointment though, right?”

I reassure her that her mother WILL be getting another appointment because it isn’t her fault the clinic was cancelled and it is up to us to make sure she gets the treatment she needs. The daughter seems satisfied, so she thanks me for being so understanding and turns to her mother.

Daughter: “Let’s go, Mum.”

The elderly lady turns to walk away and then changes her mind and stops. She turns to face me again.

Woman: “So [Gastroenterologist] is off sick today, is he?”

Me: “Yes, unfortunately, he is.”

She looks around and then leans in close to me and screams.

Woman: “WELL, HE F****** DESERVES IT!”

And she stormed out!

I worked in the reception for another two weeks and then was moved on to other duties. I really enjoyed working in the hospital, and years later, I still vividly remember this elderly lady leaning forward to scream, “WELL, HE F****** DESERVES IT!” all because her clinic was cancelled due to illness.

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