Roy Exum: A Nice Doctor’s Office

Thursday, October 9, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Last week my right knee was a little stiff, which I attributed to colder temperatures and my mounting years, but by Sunday it was painful to walk. By Tuesday I went to my pain guru, John "Rhet" Blake, and he was out of town. But yesterday it was really screaming and, since Erlanger’s orthopaedic crowd and I have a particular disdain for one another, I hobbled into the “walk-in clinic” – no pun intended – at the Chattanooga Bone and Joint Surgeons on Gunbarrel Road.

I would be remiss and negligent in my duties as a town crier if I didn’t report it was one of the most pleasant experiences in my myriad of medical encounters. Get this: no phone call, no appointment, no schedule. I think people should know what a dandy experience it was because this old world is chock full of bad experiences at doctor’s offices, trust me. All I did was show up and say “Hello everybody.”

By the time I finished the forms I was summoned back and, as one who has experienced a lot of doctor’s offices and knows the routine, there are medical practices across the country that should study and replicate the blanket of kindness every member of the staff exhibits to the patients at Chattanooga Bone and Joint Surgeons. It was so blatant I noticed it and I was soon flabbergasted by the whole thing.

Jeremy Bruce, a surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and complex orthopaedic cases, got me fixed up in no time, as a lot of trained doctors can do, but he was kind, inquisitive, sensitive and I could tell here was a guy who really cared about me. I’d never met him and now I’ll never forget him. You may think this is silly but it’s a big deal. Does your doctor impress you like that?

I’ve had surgeries all over the country, which I am not particularly proud of, and I’ve had the best and I’ve had the worst. I’ve been the patient and I’ve been the chunk of meat. The Hayes Hand Center/Plastic Surgery and Academic Internal Medicine at Erlanger are as good as any I’ve ever seen, but Chattanooga Bone and Joint Surgeons is my newest glittering gem.

I’m a big admirer of the University Surgical Group at Erlanger and the urology crowd is really good right now. Thank God I haven’t had to see Tom Devlin and his world-class stroke team, but after a couple of bad experiences I can promise that if you use any Emergency Room team besides Erlanger in Chattanooga it is my learned opinion you may be making a big mistake.

For a long time I found you could actually drive to Vanderbilt and be seen quicker than you could by some local doctors who’ll leave you in waiting rooms for three hours or more. It is no secret that several years ago, when Erlanger management was bad, a lot of the best doctors fled our Region’s Level I trauma center and today the real truth is Kevin Spiegel and his executive team are now fixing what is broken.

Here’s the opposite. There were a couple of times this summer when I couldn’t eat because the food wouldn’t go down. So my doctor arranged for me to see a certain gastroenterologist in Chattanooga. I was told their office would contact me and, sure enough, roughly three weeks later a clerk finally called and arranged for me to see a nurse practitioner -- in another three weeks.

The nurse practitioner decided I should undergo three tests that would be done at outpatient facilities in the weeks to come. I also (stupidly) signed a bunch of forms, one demanding a $200 “fee” if I missed a scheduled appointment. Then I was told the doctor who I had been referred to six weeks earlier would – get this -- see me in another two months.

But when I tried to make an appointment before I left the office, I was told the doctor was already booked and to please call in a week or so and schedule my meeting by telephone. In other words, wait a week and then the wait will be even longer.

In short, it was the craziest deal I had ever gotten into and I baled faster than I would from a flaming airplane. Anybody that falls for a plan that takes over three months to see a doctor is a fool. There is a private practice in Chattanooga right now that’s worse than the Veteran’s Administration, I’m telling you, and the patients fall for it.

The moral of the story is simply this – if you are unhappy with your doctor, by all means get away from trouble and find a good one. I believe the patient is in charge of his or her well-being. If you want to pay money to be jerked around by a rude nurse, or “the system,” or someone who doesn’t appreciate you entrusting your care to them, what a terrible thing to do to yourself.

Chattanooga is blessed with some great doctors and, boy oh boy, did I ever luck up on Wednesday at Chattanooga Bone and Joint Surgeons.

royexum@aol.com




Rep. Deffenbaugh: Week 7 Legislative Report

On Tuesday, February 21, the House reconvened for another lively week under the Gold Dome. where we were hard at work drafting, discussing and passing legislation to address important issues facing our great state. With Crossover Day coming up next week, my colleagues and I worked longer hours this week to thoroughly review key pieces of legislation and passed several bills on the ... (click for more)

Dialogue Is Needed - And Response (2)

On Feb.  24, approximately 300 citizens showed up at the downtown public library for a Town Meeting.  No elected officials attended or sent representatives. Most of the officals did send responses indicating that they were unable to attend. I moved to Chattanooga in the 1970's.I have seen progress in improving health,education,minority relations and ... (click for more)

Signal School Study Says Under Own School System Much More Could Go To The Classroom; Lennon Says Getting Land, Buildings A Major Issue

A panel studying a new school system operated by Signal Mountain concluded that much more money could go directly into the classroom, helping students further increase their potential.   However, County School Board member Kathy Lennon said how the town would be able to acquire the land and buildings is a major issue.   A group of Signal Mountain residents ... (click for more)

Man, 39, Shot Late Friday Night In The Vicinity Of North Chamberlain Avenue

Police said a 39-year-old man was shot late Friday night in the vicinity of North Chamberlain Avenue.   He was identified as Ruben Williams Sr.   Officers with the Chattanooga Police Department were informed just before midnight that a shooting victim arrived at a local hospital via personal vehicle.   Officers made contact with the victim who advised ... (click for more)

McCallie Advances To D-II Final Four With 67-48 Win

The third time wasn’t the charm for the Pope John Paul II Knights. Playing at McCallie in the quarterfinal round of the Division II state basketball tournament Saturday night, the Knights played better than they had the previous two times they met, but the result was the same as McCallie advanced to the Final Four with a 67-48 victory. McCallie, snipping a three-game losing ... (click for more)

'Canes Roll Past Stone Memorial 62-38 In Region 3-3A Action

East Hamilton was able to shake off a devastating 30-point loss to Cleveland in the District 5-3A championship game earlier in the week and Stone Memorial was victimized by the Hurricanes’ big bounce-back. East Hamilton held the visitors scoreless in the first quarter and went on to shellack the Panthers 62-38 in a history-making victory on its home court Saturday night. ... (click for more)