I recently (it was mid-July) witnessed an interesting scenario play out in my doctor’s office waiting room.
I was waiting for my appointment like all the others in the waiting room, the staff behind the counter were attending to fresh arrivals, checking them in for scheduled appointments – standard fare, and I wasn’t eavesdropping, but …
A young man came in – trendy clothes, Nike backpack, shorts and running shoes – tall, long curly hair, and excellent English, probably a high school or university student. He explained needing to see a doctor, being new here, recently arrived from Ukraine, and explaining he had been told he should go to a walk-in clinic. The clerk advised it was not a walk-in clinic, but they have many doctors who are fully booked for appointments, though some of them are taking new patients, and that she could book him in, perhaps in September or October, but not any sooner. She indicated that if he needed to see someone today, a walk-in clinic was nearby, and she provided the address. He politely thanked her and went on his way.
Now, that sounds great – great for the kid, great for the clinic clerk being helpful, great for our health care system and for their being walk-in clinics available, so people don’t clog emergency rooms for minor ailments.
So what is wrong with this picture I’ve painted?
I was overhearing other conversations for about twenty minutes – one of which was a young woman apologizing for being late and missing her appointment due to a large accident on Deerfoot Trail, to which that same clerk replied, “no worries, we’ve had several cancellations – I’ll get you in right away,” and she did.
So, when do we stretch, and when do we do the merely adequate?
I don’t have an answer, but I thought this a story worth sharing and thinking about – wondering if I see it differently than on the day it occurred.
How we see others, how we treat others, and how we see others being treated is worthy of thought, comment, and observation – that we test our values and sensibilities.
Would we book the articulate young Ukrainian with one of those doctors with an available slot to build a relationship with his family (possibly more patients), his friends, relatives and fellow new immigrants?
Would we want to see this play out differently for any other group, like poor people, homeless people, or indigenous people? I don’t have simple answers, and I realize it’s not a simple question – perhaps not one for answering right away, but one for thinking about.