As the mother of a 4-year-old, there have been countless times that I have relied on our pediatrician – right away.
There was the time my daughter started drinking cow milk and within hours was covered in huge welt-like rashes. Of course my pediatrician’s office was closed for the night. We called anyway, and the answering service passed on our message. Minutes later, Dr. Yan called my cell phone to help decide whether she should be taken to the ER. He prescribed Benadryl, calculated exactly how much we could give a 13-month-old by weight, and referred us to an allergist. It turned out to be a badly-timed virus, not a milk allergy.
Then there were the many times we called for an urgent same-day appointment. The time she got croup so badly that she seemed to be gasping for breath. The time she couldn’t stop vomiting and over-the-counter medication didn’t touch her fever.
My pediatrician has never let us down.
This is what I kept thinking about over the past month, as I got call after call from angry parents who claimed their doctors were too busy to see them for minor illnesses. At first I was sure they were exaggerating – or perhaps they’d called their doctor just before the office closed?
But no. They were right. There is a problem in Glens Falls Hospital’s primary care system, as I reported yesterday: 40% of the medical providers have left in the last five months.
I cannot imagine the sense of betrayal I would feel if my pediatrician was too busy to see me when my child had an ear infection and needed antibiotics. I have a high deductible plan (not by choice), so I pay $220 for every office visit. I pay much more for urgent care – it was $900 when I had to take my daughter there for a UTI on a holiday weekend.
If my pediatrician sent me to urgent care during business hours, for a minor illness he could easily treat, I would find a new pediatrician. The patients I interviewed don’t want to do that – but I am very afraid that my next story on this subject will be about the number of primary care patients the hospital has lost.