∙In our last issue, I made what I thought was a tongue-in-cheek comment about doctor’s visits, which prompted this response from an “Anonymous Family Doctor.” I understand why he/she wants to remain anonymous and I do appreciate the fact that he/she took time out of their busy schedule to send this. I certainly understand how crazy a doctor’s day can be and that they don’t know if a patient will come in with a cold or pneumonia (or if patients run late).
As a family physician in Ventura seeing up to 23 patients per day, with 20 minute appointment slots per patient regardless of the reason for their appointment, I was a bit offended by your insensitive comment “I think doctors should arrive 15 minutes early for appointments so that patients don’t need to arrive 15 minutes early (as directed) and sit for an hour.” In the Vol. 13, No. 3 – Nov 6 – Nov 19, 2019 – Opinion/Editorial.
These 20-minute appointments include the time it takes the nurse to take vital signs, make sure the patient is up to date with all necessary vaccines, preventative health measures, write down the reason for the patient visit, and make any small talk. This may allow me 10 minutes to get a history, do a physical exam, perform any necessary procedures, counsel and educate patients on necessary or unnecessary labs, vaccines, or preventative tests they may or may not need.
I hate running late and always apologize to patients when I do. No matter how late I’m running, I never rush patients, give them my full attention and provide them the care they need and deserve. I went into medicine because I truly care about people.
Out of respect to the patient in front of me, all the other patients I have to see, and myself, I make a huge effort to stay on time. Patients are technically allowed 3 concerns per visit. Patients often have more concerns and need more than the allotted time, which can make time management difficult. It is also not uncommon for patients to show up late and the policy where I work is that no matter how late a patient arrives for their appointment, I still have to see them. In the past, doctors would not only NOT see patients who arrived late, but they would fine them. There is nothing more frustrating than the first scheduled patients in the morning or afternoon to show up late, which will throw off the morning or afternoon.
We are now in a patient-centered era, focused on customer service with direct access meaning patients can e-mail me at any time and expect to hear back within 24 hours. These e-mails are usually answered in the early morning, between patients, during lunch breaks, or in the evenings. With just over 2,000 patients, this makes for a lot of e-mails and long days.
This is just a glimpse into the life of a primary care doctor, which is why burnout is so common.
With the advances in the health care system, a solution albeit imperfect, may be to create access to a doctor’s schedule for patients see if the doctor is on time or running late with the understanding that all it takes is one patient to show up late or need a little extra TLC to delay the doctor’s schedule.
A tip for the editor and breeze readers is to schedule their doctor appointment first thing in the morning or right after lunch. Plus, studies have shown that doctors don’t perform as well later in the day, so it behooves the patient to make an earlier appointment. Also, always bring a book, magazine or smart device (or the Ventura Breeze, editor comment) so you have something to do while waiting.
I would like nothing more than to be on time for all of my patients, but with the current healthcare system, it’s a challenge.
Anonymous Family Doctor
∙People in Ventura have noticed a helicopter flying around the community lately. No, not looking for a crook, it is Edison conducting aerial inspections. They are also doing these with drones.
∙Sales of flavored vaping products have been banned in Ventura. Tobacco-flavored vaping products – which are used by some adults to break (supposedly) their cigarette use – were exempted. The city (and county) bans affect retail outlets, and Ventura has taken the additional step of banning online sales within city limits (which of course can’t really be controlled but it sounds nice). I am all for this.
∙The number of journalists imprisoned globally for their work in 2019 remained near record highs, as China tightened its iron grip on the press and Turkey, has stamped out virtually all independent reporting. Protests in the Middle East has led to a rise in the number of journalists locked up in the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This is why I never send a journalist further then Ojai. All jokes aside, this is a terrible trend.
∙The Ventura City Council unanimously passed an emergency eviction ordinance to halt “no-cause” evictions until Jan. 1, when a new statewide tenant protection law takes effect. There has been a rise in evictions ahead of the law, which will ban evictions without a “just cause” and caps annual rent increases.
City Attorney Gregory Diaz explained that the ordinance is not a criminal law. If a landlord violates the ordinance, the city attorney won’t file a criminal complaint and the city won’t file a civil complaint. The ordinance can be used as a defense for tenants who bring a landlord to court.
The council also approved a name for the new city/county year-round homeless shelter, which will be opening soon. The shelter is named The ARCH, which stands for “All Roads Connect to Housing.”
I think this name will be confused with The ARC of Ventura County, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
∙Regarding possible impeachment, what I find sad (regardless of one’s political affiliation) is that voting is completely along party lines. Not sure if this serves our country well. Lindsey Graham said it better than me; “I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here,” Graham said, adding, “What I see coming, happening today is just partisan nonsense.”