Friday, April 02, 2004

Right Place, Right Time

Talk about serendipity! You just have to be in the right place at the right time. I've been at my daughter's Outdoor Science School all week as the volunteer doctor. It is in the local mountains, about a 45 minute drive from home, and out of range for cellphone access. Since I am just starting out and don't have very many patients, and since I don't know any family doctors in the local community well enough to ask them to cross-cover me, I didn't arrange for cross-coverage. I changed my answering machine greeting to reflect my abscence from the office this week, and I've continued to check for messages several times a day. But other than one appointment for a physical for next week, there have been no messages.

Imagine my surprise to have been able to see two patients yesterday. I drove down from the mountain yesterday at around 10:30 am because I had a class to teach at UCLA, and I wanted to stop by my office and check my mail. There was a new phone message which hadn't been there when I called earlier at 7:30 am. It was from one of our family friends who was hoping to get an appointment for her daughter with a sore throat. I immediately called her back and told her how lucky she was that I had come down from the mountain (one of her other daughters is at the Ourdoor Science School, too), and she immediately drove over.

While they were filling out the registration papers, I got another call. This was from the relative of one of the secretaries at my wife's job, who wanted to make an appointment for her boyfriend. At first I thought that I didn't have enough time to see him, because I was already seeing one patient, plus I needed to get down to UCLA by 1:30 pm. Plus I needed to take a shower. Badly. But the alternative was to make him wait.
"Can he come over right now?" I asked. It turned out he lived very close, and he could be over in a few minutes. I told him to come at 11:30 am, to give myself enough time to take care of the patient I had now.

And it all worked out.

I got to try out the OSOM Rapid Strep A test, and I charged them their usual copayment of $10 for an office visit. They have out of network benefits with Cigna, so I will submit a bill to them later. By the time I was done with them, the 2nd patient had arrived. While he was filling out his registration papers, I ran across the street to my house to get a spare stethoscope since I had left mine up in the mountains (how could I have known I was going to be seeing patients?). I got back before he finished filling out the first page. He was happy to be able to get an appointment so quickly, especially because the other doctor he saw 2 days earlier told him today that there was nothing else he could do for him and he'd have to go to the County-USC Hospital. Which is a zoo.

Tomorrow (Friday) is the last day of Outdoor Science School, but I'll be headed to San Francisco for the weekend attending the California Academy of Family Physician's Annual Scientific Assembly. I still plan to check my phone messages from there, even though I probably won't get any calls. But that's not a bad thing when you're out of town. I know it's a luxury I won't be able to have in the future.

In case you're wondering how can I post this when I can't even get cell phone access? Juno.