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Before dawn on Monday morning 05/04, Diann and I beach-scootered over to the Jackson Memorial Hospital (JMH) Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) East Chemotherapy Infusion Center – a.k.a. the Rocky Horror Beauty Parlor – for what was scheduled to be the resumption of her chemo after the break taken to stent her bronchoesophageal fistula. There we sat in a cramped and crowded waiting room for three hours before being told Diann’s blood test results precluded any chemo that day, and that we should have her blood tested again on Tuesday and come back on Wednesday.
That she wasn’t getting chemo was disappointing. What was truly frustrating, however, is that the blood test results referred to had been available to JMH since the previous Friday. They knew, or should have known, three days earlier that Diann wouldn’t be cleared for chemo on Monday, so why did they waste half a day of our time as well as that of their own Infusion Center staff processing paperwork for an appointment going nowhere? Probably because Molina Healthcare requires all of its Florida MMA “members” to get their lab work done at Quest Diagnostics, whose test results are not directly accessible from JMH patient medical records.
Anyway… We returned home just in time for one of Molina Healthcare’s Univita errand boys to call us three times triangulating our location before finally delivering the nebulizer that had been prescribed for Diann ten days earlier – and then only after walking halfway around her building to take the elevator rather than the short flight of steps leading directly to her door. The previous Friday we’d told Univita we’d be at the hospital all day Monday, so why they scheduled their delivery truck to make a stop anyway is yet another testament to the (in)efficiency of corporatized medicine.
The next morning – Tuesday 05/05 – Diann was awakened by a call from the fourth Molina Healthcare rep in so many weeks wanting to know what Diann’s ailment was, why she’d gone to the hospital, and how she was feeling now that she was home again. The fact that she has stage IV squamous esophageal cancer didn’t seem to phase the young man, whose sole focus was clearly to complete some probably-purposeless form. Later that afternoon we realized Diann’s first and so far only benefit from choosing Molina Healthcare, which is that she can get her blood tested at a Quest lab close by rather than trekking to their trailer on the JMH campus. Having done so, we notified her oncologist Dr. Amrita Desai and asked her to confirm that Diann would be cleared for chemo before we made another trip to the hospital for nothing. That evening Dr. Desai reported her WBC count was 4.6 and platelets 200, so she was good to go.
Wednesday morning 05/06 we were waiting at the door to JMH ACC East when it opened at 6:45am. We were second to register for chemo that day but at 7:55am still sitting in the waiting room, so I left Diann and dashed across to the JMH Pharmacy in ACC West to fill the nebulizer solution prescription that might allow her to derive some benefit from her new nebulizer. The pharmacy didn’t open until 8:00am but there were already ten people ahead of me when I got there. Around 8:30am I was finally able to hand the prescription to a counter clerk, who in short order told me Diann’s insurance (Molina Healthcare) didn’t cover the prescribed nebulizer solution. I then informed her that Molina/Univita had already delivered a nebulizer, and asked her what the #@*! they expected us to do with it without the solution. She went and asked somebody who called somebody else, and then came back to the window and said the prescription would be covered but the pharmacy would have to order the solution as they were out of it. I told her to order it. She gave me a pickup ticket for 10:30am the next day, and I left.
My next stop was the JMH Guest Services office. There I informed concierge Anthony Diaz that the Cerner Health online patient portal he had set up for Diann Pearson was displaying error messages instead of her appointments. He assured me that the only resolution of the problem would be to call their corporate IT contractors at 877-621-8014. I did. Cerner’s Brooke McDermeit answered saying there was nothing she could do without a screenshot of the error – probably gambling that I like most JMH patients wouldn’t know how to capture one. She lost. I sent the screenshot. I sent another one the next day. And as of this writing the error persists – making Diann’s JacksonHealth.org Patient Portal pretty much useless. Corporatized medicine…
Now 0 for 2 with my JMH To Do List, I headed back to the ACC chemo salon and found Diann just getting settled into Chair 6. This would be Diann’s fourth chemotherapy treatment, and lucky for us the nurse assigned was Edith “EJ” Perez. EJ had interceded to get Diann through the worst part of her last chemo nightmare, and she put a plan in place to make sure that didn’t happen again. And it didn’t! With an extra flow of saline and Dilaudid in reserve, this compassionate, caring and competent chemo angel staved off Diann’s Paclitaxel back attacks for the full three-hour infusion. She then topped off her cancer cocktail with a jigger of Carboplatin, and for the first time ever Diann completed an almost painless chemo session!
Pray for Diann,