Thursday, February 24, 2011

Worlds of Difference

Ronnie's urologist and nephrologist are both affiliated with the same big teaching hospital in our city. Their offices are one floor apart, but it feels like we are in two entirely different medical facilities when visiting the doctors.

The urologist is not all warm and fuzzy, but he and his staff are the most disability-aware medical team I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I reviewed this doctor's office for my website because I was so impressed.

And, I plan to review the nephrologist's office, but it will not even come close to being as positive a review.

Ronnie has seen this doctor twice now. We had to switch to a nephrologist who primarily sees adult patients because the pediatric nephrologist moved away. I really like the doctor - he is personable and warm and even a little quirky - but his disability awareness is very poor.

I requested an interpreter for Ronnie for each of his two visits. Neither time was an interpreter present. When scheduling Ronnie's next appointment, I tried again today to make sure that an interpreter would be available. After fussing loudly that no one has shown her how to order an interpreter, the scheduling person said it was the nurse's job to do that. Say what? The scheduler had no idea how to even start. I had to tell her what department of the teaching hospital handled such requests and I even had to tell her the director's name to contact if she needed assistance. Fortunately, I knew that information because my family frequently visits the medical offices at the hospital. But how would a first time patient know to do that? Would they, like Ronnie, have to see the doctor and not have a clue what was being said?

When I mention to the staff that Ronnie is Deaf (after they talk to him and appear baffled that he doesn't respond), they then just stop talking to him. All conversation is directed at me. I keep signing back to Ronnie, but he should be able to handle most of his own appointments now that he is older. The medical staff doesn't give him the chance to do that.

Unlike at the urology office where Ronnie and I feel valued and respected, I feel like we are a bother to a lot of the staff at the nephrology office. Since Ronnie and I do like the doctor, we are going to keep trying, but the staff needs to realize that they don't want to get me too angry. Just ask my school district special education staff.....

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