Saturday, January 23, 2021

Still Life with Robin: Don't Call Us, We'll Call YOU

by Peggy Robin

Have you been trying to get vaccine news from your health care provider through a “portal”?

I’m reminded of the situation in the late-90’s sitcom Sex in the City. The character, “Mr. Big,” who’s used to having things his way, suddenly finds himself as the less important person in a relationship with a Hollywood star who’s even bigger than Big. And she won’t give him her phone number. He must wait for HER to call him. And he doesn’t like it!

That’s where we are with our health care providers. In relation to this affair, you can’t call them, you just have to wait until THEY are ready to see YOU. This was the note I found on my health care provider’s portal: “If you are eligible, we will contact you when appointments are available.” [my emphasis] They tell you bluntly not to bother to call your doctor about this. They’ll get back to you when they are good and ready. But don’t sit by the phone. They will send you an email saying that there’s a message from them in your “portal.” So you have to click on a link in the email, which takes you to the portal they’ve required you to set up. Then you log in (or, if you’re like me, you’ve got your computer set up to log you in automatically, so you don’t need to remember your user name and password).

Then you see the message, right?

Not so fast. You are likely to find there are several notifications in different sections of your portal. They are all marked with exclamation points, indicating that there’s an urgency to each message. So you click on the first one and discover it’s just an update of data collected at your last physical. It’s stuff that’s four months old but you never bothered to look at it before.  Next, you click on the second exclamation-pointed message. It’s date-stamped yesterday-- and it tells you that you successfully got your doctor to reauthorize a prescription. That’s new, all right…but it’s not news.

So you click on the third one, and bingo, that’s the one with the covid vaccine news. Click on it and you see a note from the health network telling you that you are indeed eligible to be vaccinated…and they will let you know when they’ll be open and available for you to make an appointment to get your shot.

Well, fortunately in my case, that’s not needed. I already was able to get shot #1 of 2 through the  VaccinateDC system…and sure enough, when I look at the “Recent Activity” list in of my online health chart, I do see the record of the shot I was given last week at the Senior Wellness Center in SE  But what if I hadn’t been so lucky? Like Mr. Big in that long-ago Sex in the City episode, I’d be sitting around, anxiously waiting for THEM to get back to me.


Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.  

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