Changing Mom’s Physician

Ever since my parents moved back to Milwaukee from Florida some 15 years ago, Mom has enjoyed the relationship that she has built with her General Physician. Her doctor’s staff has been very compassionate and supportive, especially during the winter months when there is no way that Mom is leaving the house in that frigid cold weather (except on a few occasions by way of a 911 team). They’ve “treated” her over the phone several times, which has been a blessing.

Mom would laugh with the nursing assistants that she doesn’t leave the house until it is at least 45 degrees above zero (unfortunately we did experience 45 below zero a couple times this past winter!). So, when it becomes Spring, they call to get her into the office for an exam.

Even though her doctor’s office is just a 5-minute drive away, this Spring Mom just had not been up to it though. She has experienced more muscle atrophy from her PPS since March, making her legs and arms much weaker. Just the thought of the effort needed to get dressed, transfer to her wheelchair, transfer into the van, back into the wheelchair, back into the van and back into the wheelchair to get into the house, exhausts her. (Me too!) Unfortunately she really doesn’t have the strength anymore for all that. (Even if we purchased a van that would allow her to stay in her wheelchair, thus eliminating several physical transfers, she would still be exhausted. We’ve debated this idea for most of this year.)

That, and the fact that Dad cannot be left home alone truly complicates the matter.

So, last week we spoke with her doctor and asked for the at-home physician referral she offered late last summer. It happened to be the same company providing Dad with his healthcare at home.

So, I called to set up service for Mom. It took about 20 minutes to answer all the questions required for her to be considered for their service, and I requested a female physician for Mom. Two days later, the intake assistant called us back with the good news that yes, Mom’s insurance will cover their service. Which of course we already knew since she and Dad have the same insurance. (Can you see me rolling my eyes?)

Then, things got complicated. (Don’t they seem to always?)

Because they noticed that my Dad already has a provider assigned to him/the house, they “hoped” that Mom was comfortable enough knowing Dad’s male physician that she would allow him to be her physician also. Nope. He’s a nice enough man, and does a great job with Dad. But, nope.

So, I put my “advocate” hat on and went to bat for my mom. As anticipated, they argued that we already have someone coming to the house, it would be more expedient (for them) to have the same practitioner see both. They then “hoped”, that my Dad would agree to be seen by the female practitioner that could see Mom. Nope. That won’t work either, I responded. His Alzheimer’s exacerbates his inability to handle change. I also reminded them that they had sent a female physician about 3 years ago to examine Dad when his former male physician was suddenly no longer available to see him, and Dad flat-out refused the exam and sent her on her way.

I was next offered the opportunity to speak to the manager, which I appreciated and was ready for. After listening to her administrative argument (which I totally understand as a former Human Resources Manager), I presented our case: that Mom is not comfortable with and has never had a primary physician who is male; and that Dad is not comfortable with and has never had a primary physician who is female. Besides being “efficient”, is there a problem with them providing what we’ve asked for? The manager hesitated, and said she’d speak with my Dad’s physician the next business day and call me back. About what, I was not sure, but we ended that conversation….. and I immediately called my mom’s GP to see if there was another service she could refer us to, just in case this service wasn’t going to be able to accommodate both parents.

Two days later, I received a call from the intake assistant, asking if next Friday was a good day to set up an appointment for Mom. Well, I asked, will it be a female physician? Yes. And Dad’s physician remains the same? Yes….didn’t you speak with my manager? Yes, and she said she’d call me back with their final determination, but I haven’t heard from her….. She apologized for that, and confirmed that yes, they will send a physician for each of my parents.

Crisis averted.

And, a gold star for me to add to my Advocate “win” column. It’s these little victories that can refuel my caregiver’s tank in a hurry! 🙂


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