Once correspondence was made with the receptionist, I was informed that obtaining an examination slot would not be an issue, even for out-of-province visitors. Whether patients had a BC-issued health card or Canadian "MSP" (Medical Services Plan) was irrelevant for the provision of their services; the sole requirement was an x-ray requisition from a local doctor.
"You can go into any walk-in." assured the receptionist. But this process was much easier said than done.
Finding a walk-in open at 8 AM was impossible. Some had transitioned to only caring for existing patients, while others were fully booked on their online system until two weeks later.
I had been informed that, following the phone consultation, the x-ray requisition could be faxed over to brooke radiology directly, such that I would not need to hobble down two blocks with an injury.
Patiently, I resided at home, waiting until the 2 PM mark to call the clinic again, as I was "on call" until 3 PM. The pain had not lessened during this period. The receptionist's voice seemed to grow quiter each time, the volume barely audible over the cordless landline phone. The office confirmed that I was still on the list, and that the doctor was making his way down the list, with two more patients ahead of me in the virtual queue.
Eventually I received the call at 3:31 PM. A male doctor with heavy Chinese accent commenced the phone consultation. As I explained my situation, he constantly cut me off, expressing extreme arrogance, and demanded that I go into the clinic for a visual inspection. In spite of relaying my difficulties to him, in that not only was I was an injured, out-of-province visitor without a car, he was insistent on the in-personal examination, pointing out that I had "paid anyway" and "it would be better to come in."
Another wait ensued as I arrived at the clinic. The droopy-eyed receptionist gestured towards one of few chairs that were not taped off and marked with an "X".
The doctor, a bald man in his thirties, said nothing about the abrasions. I had kept them bandaged and refused to remove them on the basis that I would have no backup Polysporin or bandaids to cover them back up. Instead, I offered to show him images, though he refused to extend comments without viewing the wounds.
"I saw you move your hand." He remarked skeptically at my swift re-positioning of my fanny pack to my backpack. "It doesn't seem broken at all."
He declared the bruise on my left leg worse than the wrist, and observed no fractures in the wrist upon physical examination. Then, he proceeded to interrogate in a manner that spited rather than solicited specifics.
"Does this area hurt?" He asked.
"It hurts here." I pointed to a neighbouring area.
"Does it hurt where I'm pressing?" he snapped, exasperated, as if I should have known he was strictly inquiring about the point in question.
He announced that "(I) was fine" and that I had sounded significantly worse over the phone, as if I had been exaggerating the situation when, in reality, I was merely informing of how I felt in that moment following the trauma-inducing occurrence. As a patient seeking medical advice and confirmation, my sole duty was to provide coherent and comprehensive details for analysis and recommendations. Degrading it was to be taken as someone who was not visiting the clinic for story-telling and drama.
Again, would I know without several years of anatomy study? Biology was dropped before I finished high school for a reason.
He gave me attitude, spoke as if I was dumb but used medical jargon all the same: "not your ankle, your tib-fib"
Like, would I know?? What is a tib-fib?
He reiterated that he would give me the x-ray requisitions since "he had promised", though his medical opinion had deemed it unwarranted: "You came to me for my medical opinion, and I am telling you it is not necessary. But since I promised, I will give it to you."
He gave very vague directions and constantly cut me off.
I wanted specific answers, but he answered vaguely with tremendous repetition. I had to restructure my questions to seek further details and obtain the clarity I was asking for, wasting considerable time in the process.
The doctor proposed waiting a few more days before processing with the x-ray, as to monitor whether the pain would subside in the meantime. I acknowledged his suggestion, but wasn't about to make a second visit when I had already relinquished Uber fees for the 2 km trip.
Unlike the desk staff, the female technician gave me attitude:
"Do I take off my watch?" Images of my left wrist were to be taken, after all.
She scowled, then responded with "Wait for my instructions."
Shorts were shoved at me for changing into. As we navigated to the examination room, she told me to take my backpack with me as well, leaving nothing behind.
Her attitude grew more amicable over course of x-ray-ing, though directions were still unclear. "Rotate out, face the wall, etc." were muffled and sounded audibly annoyed when repeated. It was with much frustration that I reiterated: The patient is not responsible for the medical professional's lack of clarity in communication.
"The doctor will call you with the results." she informed at the end of the examination.
Upon hearing nothing back, I called WELL on Friday morning. Once more, I endured the battle of barely audible conversation with the receptionist. "We haven't received anything yet." she declared. "If we receive anything this afternoon, I will let you know."
Great. I confirmed my contact details and proceeded with the day.
Utterly taken back by the absurdity of this message, I began to press for answers: "So do I get to know the results?? Is anything broken?!"
The receptionist responded that she could not answer on behalf of the doctor, but hinted that "If there was anything wrong, we would have called you."
She announced that, should I wish to discuss the results of the diagnostic imaging, I would need to make another appointment with the doctor, and that a phone consultation would likely suffice.
I heaved an exasperated sigh, but began to review my availability for the following week. As I was about to slot in an appointment for next Wednesday (Yes, 1.5 weeks after the actual test!), the receptionist informed me of another medical consultation fee. The same $160 fee would apply to follow-up appointments.
All factors considered, I ultimately never received the information nor confirmation I had been seeking. BC healthcare was just so incredibly flawed.
Professional negligence leading to death, failure to provide timely treatment, surgical mishaps, uncaring attitude, unhelpful behaviour - the list goes on. My personal experience with BC's healthcare system is only one example of its poor execution.
Had I been a working individual with schedules, would I ever be able to secure an appointment? Would I be expected to return to work while risking physical injury? Would I need to be on-call and off work for the entirety of the time, waiting for appointment availabilities and test results?