Walk-in Wow

I had an awful flu bug (again) a couple weeks ago — started out of the blue with body aches and fever and morphed into a killer sore throat and cold. By day 7 (day 5 of the sore throat), I was ready to rip my throat out with my bare hands. Could it be my first case of strep throat?

Stupidly, I never changed my PCP since moving three years ago — my primary care doc is still an hour away near my old house. So I decided to check out the new storefront “urgent care” place just 10 minutes away. I’ve never been to one before, so didn’t know what to expect. It’s open 9:00 to 9:00, and Mike and I got there about 9:10 a.m. on a Thursday. At least six people were ahead of us already as we settled down to wait after briefly registering and handing over my insurance info. Nice waiting room, big TV — what you’d expect from a new place.

After about a half hour (I’ve waited way longer in doctors’ offices even WITH an appointment), we were ushered into an exam room, and a nurse (or something) took some basic info and did a throat swab (my first ever, believe it or not). In a short bit, we were seen by a Physician’s Assistant — very thorough, very professional, very personable. She asked more questions, and in a jiffy, I had a blood test for mono and a urine test to rule out a kidney infection for my lower back pain. I’ve never had any of those at my regular doc, and certainly not done and analyzed right in the office!

In a relatively short time, I got a clean bill of health on all counts — no strep, no mono, no infections (and not pregnant, ha ha) — got a prescription for antibiotics with a firm warning that if the sore throat was viral, the meds wouldn’t help — and a prescription for a numbing gargle for my throat. And a very sympathetic, “I hope you feel better soon,” that sounded like she meant it.

Turns out I didn’t fill either prescription (not a big fan of drugs), and I started feeling better the next day (of course). But I left feeling very impressed with the experience. It was fast, considering no appointment, and a breeze, considering that my 10:30 p.m. trip to the ER last year for my 88-year-old mom lasted about 5 excruciating hours and was an awful experience on all counts. Mike was impressed as well and was even considering just using MedExpress as his primary care facility…it was that easy and that efficient.

And, to boot, they even called my home a day or two later to check that everything was OK! I missed the call, but can you imagine? I can barely get test results from a regular doc (usually I have to call them) let alone having them call and check on me like a concerned friend.

So, traditional doctors’ offices, take a lesson. If it’s possible for MedExpress to manage walk-ins that efficiently and that thoroughly, and to make anonymous patients feel cared for and not rushed through the system, why the heck is it so impossible for many of you to do that with patients who actually choose you for ongoing care?

Even though I really like my PCP practice and have been going there for 7 years or so (the doc I usually see is so young I call him Doogie), I’ve always felt I should choose a closer PCP…just in case. But now, maybe not.

 Well done is better than well said.
                    ~ Benjamin Franklin


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