Mexico’s Seguro Popular—A model of inefficiency–Dr. J.

dr j

So January 27 arrived and we got to the Regional at 6:30.  My husband had to stay outside again. I asked in the waiting area who had been the last to arrive and took note, so that when we lined up, I would know who I was after.  While I waited, I listened to the other people waiting tell stories of having to arrive at 4 a.m. at the clinic to get in line or buying a ficha (number) from someone who had arrived earlier.  I distinctly remembered seeing a sign at the front door that said that fichas (numbers) were not for sale…but hey, who am I to begrudge someone 20 pesos for their time?

When the appropriate personnel arrived, we were instructed to line up according to our order of arrival.  This was a surprise to some of the people waiting and there was a bit of shoving to get the line straightened up.  I was 5th or 6th in line, however, those who were waiting with children were giving the first few spaces.  When it was my turn, I handed the attendant the sheet Dr. Viejita (Old Lady) had given me and in return she gave me a paper with the date I should return for results and 4 stickers with my name on them.  It didn’t take too long for them to call my name and take 2 vials of blood and I was out by 7:15 a.m.  I must have looked like a pro because no less than 3 women asked me what the procedure was for the lab while I waited and I explained.

My results were supposed to be ready the next day, so I sent my husband to pick them up.  He had time at 1 p.m. and drove out to the hospital; however the lab only gives results from 9-10 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. and no other time, so he had to make 2 trips.  I looked over the results and didn’t see the TSH results, but I thought maybe it had a different abbreviation in Spanish.  Silly me.

Although my appointment for January 30 was at 9 a.m., my husband insisted we needed to go early.  So we did.  This time, we entered separately, with each of us carrying some paperwork in order to slip past the security guard.  Archivos (archives) didn’t open until 7:20 and I ended up being about 20th in line.  When I arrived at the glass partition, I handed the clerk the copy of our seguro (insurance) policy, a copy of my curp (Mexican social security number), a copy of my new residency card (See Residency at last), a copy of a proof residency which usually is a water or electric bill but in our case came in the form of a letter from Super Prez asserting that we lived in La Yacata, and the pink appointment book.  She returned the pink card to me and gave me a blue laminated ficha (number).

I went to check in at the nurse’s station but was told I needed to check in at the second nurse’s station, which really was just a folding table, 2 chairs and a scale.  So I marched down there and had my height, weight and blood pressure checked.  I understand that my weight and blood pressure might vary, but just not sure why my height might change drastically since the last appointment, but it didn’t cost me anything to stand and be measured again.  The nurse took my ficha (number) and wrote my name down, but couldn’t tell me what consultoria (consulting room) I would be in.  I sat down to wait.

As the crowd thickened, the nurses were questioned repeatedly about when the doctor would arrive to begin consultations.  The harried nurses responded with the startling truth that the doctors did not have set schedules.  When a doctor was finished with his or her rounds in the hospital, then and only then, would he or she report to the consultation area.  This might be around 9 a.m. or might not.  Not encouraging news.

With the press of people in the waiting area and the rising sun, the waiting room became stuffy and hot.  My husband began to get cranky.  I think I have mentioned before that he is not a patient man.  He was ready to leave and make the appointment for another day.  As I had already lost the morning’s work, I didn’t want to reschedule and pleaded with him to be patient just a little longer.  Finally, at 10 a.m. my name was called along with 3 or 4 other women’s and we were told to go over to the consulting room next to x-rays which was in another wing of the hospital.  We did.  It was closer to the front door and therefore, much cooler and we sat down to wait.  Dr. J arrived but we had to wait while he went to hunt down a typewriter for his office.

A woman much like my now deceased mother-in-law tried to bully her way into the consulting room, but Dr. J was having none of that and frowned her into her chair again. I was ficha #2, so I was in before you could say Jack Robinson, comparatively, and seated before the doctor.

Dr. J was much younger than Dr. Viejita.  I would estimate he was in his early 30s, with wispy light brown hair and an failing attempt at a moustache. He was recently married as evidence by the shiny new golden wedding band on his finger. He was wearing a surgical mask, which made it difficult for me to hear him since he was so soft spoken, but I did my best.  He asked why I was there and I again explained I needed a permanent prescription for hypothyroidism.  He asked about surgeries, if I had ever received a blood transfusion, if I had diabetes or high blood pressure, all which seemed to be relevant questions to my health issue at hand. He examined my throat for possible goiter, had me raise my arms to check for trembling, which is a sign for too much thyroid hormone and then sat down again to look at my lab results.  And surprise, surprise, there were no TSH results to be found.  So he gave me a new blood work order and sent me back to the lab to schedule the test.  He told me after I got the results, I should come back and see him directly and not to go through Archivos.  He was there Monday thru Friday.  Okie Dokie.

So I went back out to my waiting husband and told him I needed to schedule a new lab.  He was annoyed, but since we had come this far, we might as well keep going.  I queued up and made an appointment.  Since the following Monday was Constitution Day, the labs wouldn’t open until 8 a.m.  That was fine since there would be no school that day and I wouldn’t miss any work.

When I retold this adventure to my sister-in-law, she remarked that at least it was a free service.  However, I pointed out that the gas and time and money lost from canceled classes hardly made this free and she had to agree.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Mexico’s Seguro Popular—A model of inefficiency–Dr. J.

  1. Pingback: Mexico’s Seguro Popular–Back for more–Round 2 | Surviving Mexico

  2. Pingback: All Around the Health Care Bush–the weasel chased the monkey | Surviving Mexico

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