I've recently moved from Anchorage, Alaska to Hollywood, Florida and I absolutely love it. It has, however, given me a new-found, greater appreciation for many of the benefits we as Alaska Natives often take for granted, medical care in particular.
As you may or may not know I am expecting a child any day now, and with my history, am considered extremely high risk.
It was definitely a challenge to get medical care here. To qualify for medicaid I had to show proof of pregnancy. No big deal I thought as I had brought my medical records from Alaska. WRONG!! They would not accept it from an out of state doctor. So I began searching for places to get it from. There is a community health center up the road that offers free pregnancy testing, so we made our journey there and sat in line for a couple of hours, just to be told that they would not see me as I was not a Florida resident. But I was given a list of places where I could go and get a free test. OK, cool I thought. I made an appointment with one of the places on the list, and they were very happy to give me the test and a pregnancy verification. BUT, it was not by a doctor so again, it was not accepted. I was given another list, and each one I called had a different reason why they could not see me. Finally after a couple of weeks, we found a place in the next county over and got the necessary form. But submitting it was a problem, as you have to either upload it, fax it, or drive to the office and have it scanned. We did all of the above, and there is no caseworker or person you can just hand it to, and each time was told it was never received. So I did some digging, found the name of the person in charge, did more digging and found her direct number, she was not pleased that I was able to call her, but within a couple of days, viola! I had medicaid. Now I had to find a doctor who not only accepted Medicaid, but also one who would see me so late in my pregnancy. Oh boy. After calling around to a few places I finally found one who would see me and was ecstatic to finally see a doctor. The whole visit was a nightmare. The waiting room was jam packed. The doctor wasn't even in his office either. Finally he shows up and I am ushered into a little tiny room and told to put on the gown, which was made of something similar to the toilet paper you get in public restrooms. The bathroom didn't have any soap or paper towels to use. So there I sat in my paper gown waiting for the doctor. Every time I moved a little, it ripped even more. By the time he came into the room about 45 minutes later it was basically non-existent. He didn't introduce himself and neither did the nurse. He walked in and said OK legs in the stirrups, checked my cervix and then told me that I am dilated five cm and would be having the baby any day then walked out of the room. The nurse came back in and told me to meet him in his office. So I went into his office to talk with him. He was questioning me about my previous pregnancies, and I had to tell him that my son died of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. He asked me a couple more questions, and then reverted back to my son. He asked me which child died of small lungs, I said none. Then he asked which one had lung problems and I said none. I had to explain to him again what HLHS was. strange I thought. Well a couple days goes by and I had to see him again. And this time was even worse. I was not examined and asked to sign a form so they could bill medicaid for an exam, they wrote my information in the wrong chart and the doctor asked the nurse why she didn't listen to the babies heart, and she said because you pulled her from the room. So I was brought to another room, for her to listen then he tells me everything is fine. I asked him to refill my prescriptions, and he googled the names of my medication right there in front of me, all this going on while he is trying to watch TV. He has my medical records so IDK why he didn't know what meds I am on or what they are for. So upon leaving I ask for my records back, and am handed some papers that were not what I gave them to copy. I said uh, no these aren't them. So she shows me my chart and asked if this was it, I said yes. She said give me a minute I have to copy them. She then shuts, the window and completely ignored me. I still don't have them back, but I do have an appointment coming up on Tuesday with a different doctor and am keeping my fingers crossed that this one will be better.
In the end I just wanted to say that I often see and hear complaining about how bad the Alaska Native Medical Center is and want to say, that it is a palace compared to what you get down here, if you don't have private insurance. I miss it. I miss the caring doctors and the spotless facility and the care they take to ensure that you receive the best that they can possibly give you!