Unnecessary (?) adventures


Being almost four months into my second VISTA term, I've never had any trouble utilizing our health benefits...until now.  I'm not an overly-ill person or anything, but I've used our benefits a number of times.  During my trip back to Indiana for the holiday, I managed to pick up a simple head cold (which also happened last time I went home, so I'm trying to determine the correlation).  Head colds are no biggie at all, but FLYING with one is no picnic.  As a result, I've developed a quite painful ear infection.  All I need is a prescription for the infection. 

Since I wasn't smart enough to follow the advice from PSO and select a doctor when I initially moved here, I didn't have the luxury of calling him/her up to schedule a quick appointment to stop by and quickly remedy the problem.  So I thought "Okay, I'll hop online and use the Seven Corners provider search to find out what Urgent Care Centers I can go to and just do that."  Never did I imagine it would turn into an adventure.  My results yielded two care centers, one of which is pediatric only.  (For comparison purposes, I checked Indianapolis - where I was last year - and got 15 results within a 15 mile radius.)  I called them up to confirm the information listed to discover that the information was indeed wrong, but no big deal - they just relocated their office to the same location where the children's care center is located. 

I left the office a little early so I could beat rush hour traffic and begin my adventure.  We arrived at the address for the care center and ventured inside.  Upon walking in, I noticed that the area was crawling with children (all sick in some way - yuck), so I asked if the clinic served adults.  Nope.  The receptionist asked me how old I was (she probably thought I could have been under 18), so I gave her my answer and she confirmed they couldn't help me.  I asked her where I could go since I had received information about a care center being located there, and she had no idea what I was talking about.  She did, however, give me the card for a clinic located one block north and advised me to try there.  On to stop #2. 

We made the short trip to the second clinic and walked in, ready and prepared to be served.  While signing in, the receptionist asked me if I had an appointment, to which I responded "no."  (I didn't think you needed appointments at urgent care centers?)  Turns out I couldn't be seen because I didn't have an appointment.  She was nice enough, however, to give me a list of clinics that I could try to see if I had better luck elsewhere.  Moving on... 

Before going anywhere, I tried calling some of the clinics on the sheet, only to discover that most required appointments to be seen.  (At that point, I wasn't even thinking about the issue of whether Seven Corners would cover my expenses or not.)  Since it was nearing 5:00 by then, we gave up and went grocery shopping so we could restock our kitchen. 

While at Ralph’s, I explained my situation to the pharmacist and asked if he could provide any advise.  He told me about an urgent care center not far from where we were, although he couldn't tell me an exact name or address.  Upon arriving home, I went to search for it on the internet, with no luck.  I did, however, have luck finding a place just one block from the apartment that was open until 7:00.  It was 6:17;  I still had time to make it before it closed.   

We took a quick walk across the street, and found the place.  "This is it!"  I thought.  But nope, I was wrong.  The receptionist informed me that she couldn't verify my "insurance" so I would have to be responsible for any charges for the visit until I could find out if they would be covered.  How much?  "At least $175, but could be $250 or more."  Too much.  I left frustrated and in awe of how complicated this had become.  I would have given up by now and just waited out the infection were it not for the fact that it's one of the most painful ones I've had in a while.  I wake up at night in pain and am constantly reminded of it throughout the day.  So I wasn't ready to give up. 

This morning, I called Seven Corners to find out if they covered any other places that weren't listed online, specifically the place I had tried the night before.  In a nutshell, the response given to me was "If it's not online, it's not covered."  I mentioned that I had tried the only place listed that I could go with no luck, to which I got, "If there is no where in a 35-mile radius of where you are, you can go anywhere."  Oh.  So I expanded my search to 40 miles (35 wasn't an option).  I discovered that there are three places all between 26-27 miles from me...but that's one way and not exactly close. 

In an act of desperation, I tried calling the original place again to re-listen to the recording and noticed the suite number given with the address - 150.  Interesting...the suite number for the children's clinic (in the same building) is 105.  But you would think they would know about it and would have told me about it when I initially asked...but apparently not.  So today after work, I'm going to try going back to the first building we tried to try to find the clinic.  Wish me luck!!  I don't know what I'm going to do if this doesn't work out...maybe I'm just spoiled.

Comment from Carl Seifert on January 4, 2007 - 1:21pm

Laura your ordeal sounds terrible. I'm sorry. You have definitely encouraged me to check out clinics before I get sick. Thank you for that.

I really hope things work out and you start to get better soon. Have Corey make you some Matza Ball soup...i hear its jewish penicilin.

Carl Seifert
Computer C.O.R.E.
Alexandria, VA

Comment from Laura Hanley on January 5, 2007 - 1:33pm

Thanks, Carl!  I put up Part II yesterday in case you're wondering how things (hopefully) ended.  I'm glad I encouraged you to find a place before you'll need it as well!

 Hope things are going well for you with your VISTA term and your New Year is off to a great start!

In service,