The importance of time

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Electronic Communications Manager

Thankfully, we’re not like this.

My daughter has a doctor’s appointment today.  Just a routine yearly checkup, but I already know how it’s going to go.  I’ll get there early (why I’m always optimistic, I do not know) and we’ll sit in the waiting room for 25 minutes before we get transferred to the checkup room, where we’ll wait for another 15 minutes or so.  Then the doctor will come in, hurried of course, and spend exactly 10 minutes with us, talking a mile a minute and leaving me breathless and scattered by the time she leaves.

I know it’s not her fault.

Doctors are under immense pressure to see as many patients as possible in their 10 (or so) hour day.  They get paid by the number of appointments they have, so the office squeezes patients in like clowns in the tiny car at the circus.  And a circus it becomes.  If they spend even a few extra minutes with a patient, it throws off the entire schedule and everything gets backed up.  Unfortunately, I don’t see this pattern changing any time soon.

At HPCCR, we are lucky.  The doctors and nurses in our palliative program, Palliative Medicine Consultants, don’t have to work on the same model as most other physicians (the reimbursement is different).  They have the liberty of time and they take advantage of it.  And do you know why that’s so great?  Because our patients are often overwhelmed; they’re confused by a complicated healthcare system, and that’s on top of dealing with severe pain and other frustrating symptoms from a serious illness.  They need someone to talk to, someone who will listen, answer all of their questions, and make them feel better.  And that’s exactly what our Palliative Medicine Consultants practitioners are able to do.  They will give a patient as much time as he or she needs.  They will stay until both sides are satisfied with the outcome.

I highlight our palliative program for two reasons: one, September is National Pain Awareness Month, and two, we are celebrating the ten-year anniversary of Palliative Medicine Consultants.  You know what that means?  That for TEN years, we have been not only aware of pain, but we’ve been doing our best to ease it for literally thousands of individuals in the greater Charlotte region.  That’s right, thousands.  As of the beginning of the year, the number was over 15,000 patients.  (Imagine what it is now!)  If you multiply that number by the extra 30 minutes or so that each of those patients received from one of our physicians or nurse practitioners, it’s a mind-boggling amount of time.  More importantly, it’s a lot of peace of mind that we’ve been able to give.

So while I sit there in the doctor’s office today and stew over the long wait and the precious few minutes of face time that my daughter and I will have with the doctor, I will be thankful that it’s not like that everywhere.  Because for us, it’s just a minor inconvenience on a random day.  But for those who are confused, frustrated, and continually in pain, it could be a whole lot worse.  Thank goodness for our Palliative Medicine Consultants, a group of folks who are giving those individuals exactly what they need.  A friendly face, a comforting touch, and time.

Happy anniversary, Palliative Medicine Consultants.  And thank you.

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, education, hospice, palliative

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