I’ve had to cope with a number of diseases during my long life. In recent years, I’ve undergone knee replacement surgery and had the upper lobe of my right lung removed surgically. In the aftermath of the lung surgery, I’m regularly treated for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
As a consequence, I frequently visit doctors’ offices and other medical establishments. On the whole, I’ve ended up respecting and admiring physicians and nurses. And I’m less and less patient with their staffs.
Repeatedly, I find staff members who treat patients with disrespect and even annoyance. I’m made to feel like I’m a nuisance. I’m forced to wait while they finish whatever task they’re engaged in, then rushed during our conversation. I occasionally overhear catty remarks about other patients and the problems they create. In short, I and other patients are belittled.
To be fair, I have to add that the staff of my current primary care physician consists of one person, his secretary. She goes out of her way to assist me, call in prescriptions for me, and to make my visits to the doctor comfortable and burden-free.
But she is the exception. Too often, in other doctors’ offices, I’m cast in the role of an annoyance to be tolerated with forced patience. I’m patronized for my age, shouted at for my deafness, ignored while staff members talk to one another.
I want to remind these office staffers that it is me and other patients who pay their salaries. The purpose of their jobs is to serve us. We are, in a very real sense, the reason for their existence.
We, the patients, deserve respect. Instead, we are treated with thinly veiled contempt. It’s long since time for that to change.