I don’t know whether to treat myself to a Guinness or a triple-scoop of ice cream. Neither is good for breast health, but I’m so pleased with my local breast imaging center that I might just break some dietary rules to celebrate.
You see, I was royally miffed a few weeks ago when I tried to make a mammogram appointment at Condell Medical Center in Libertyville and was told that I couldn’t make my appointment in person. Instead, I was instructed (rather tersely) to leave the premises and call a main scheduling number (for the whole story, including the fascinating interaction that took place, click here).
When things like this happen, we often feel helpless. We are victims of the system, right?
Approximately three days after posting my experiences, I received not one, but two voicemails from the hospital’s administrative team – including a message from the president. They wanted to thank me for bringing this disturbing experience to their attention and to talk to me about steps they were taking to improve scheduling processes.
Pleased to hear from them, I planned to call them back after meeting some looming deadlines and enjoying a family visit. This coincided with the mammogram I had ultimately scheduled with the hospital (yep, over the phone), so I decided to wait until I had my mammogram to respond. I had a strange feeling that if they knew I was coming, I might be treated differently.
It turned out my instincts were correct. Even though I never told them when my mammogram was scheduled, they were quite aware of my appointment. After getting undressed, squished, imaged, and dressed again, I exited the changing room and walked toward the exit.
But I didn’t make it very far.
About halfway down the hall, two official-looking ladies stopped me and said, “Carrie Steckl? We read your blog and we’d like to talk to you.”
It turned out that these women were not the same two that had called me (someone on the top floor must have put them up to this, which made me feel a little bad for them). Nonetheless, it’s a little creepy to be ambushed after your mammogram (or as my husband put it after I told him about my adventure, “Isn’t there some kind of HIPAA law about that?!?”)
The women meant business. After verifying that my mammogram went well (and it did – both Ashly at the front desk and Jody the mammogram technologist were phenomenal), they asked me if one of the employees working at the front desk that morning was the same employee who was customer-service impaired the last time I was there. I did not answer this question, as I felt this was inappropriate to be asked to hammer a nail into an employee’s coffin. Besides, a customer-service issue should be addressed broadly to ensure consistent results.
But there was a good ending to this odd meeting. In fact, it had a great ending. The ladies explained that as a result of my blog, the breast imaging center instituted a new procedure that allows patients to schedule mammogram appointments in person at the front desk. It’s a pilot procedure – meaning that they’re trying it out and will modify it as necessary – but the goal is to make it easier for patients to schedule appointments in person.
Hallelujah! This is a real example of grassroots change in the health care system. As a concerned patient, I raised my voice and was actually heard. Condell should be commended for its swift and effective response. It shows that the hospital is committed to improving its services and the accessibility of the health care it provides.
If you have a concern about one of your health care providers, I encourage you to speak up. You can make a difference. The moral of this story is that it’s worth being ambushed after your mammogram if it means that things will be easier for the women who come after you.
Finally, it’s time for my Guinness and ice cream.
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