Why We Switched Doctors


Most of the time, people see the same doctor as their friends and family. The same doctor they've seen for years. Sometimes, that works for people. And sometimes, it just doesn't. 

Our insurance is through Kaiser. If you're not familiar with their system, you visit the Kaiser offices (or hospital if you have one in town) and that's your go-to point of service. Once your primary physician determines you need additional services, they send a referral to that department who calls you and schedules your appointment or service. This continues until everything is done that can or needs to be done. So, it wasn't alarming that when the ob-gyn couldn't do anything further for us that we were referred to Kaiser RE (reproductive endocrinologist). 

At our first appointment, we were nervous, but excited to - maybe, just maybe - finally get some definitive answers. The nurse practitioner who saw us at our consult was optimistic that we didn't need much interference medical-wise. Things just weren't happening, but there was nothing medically preventing it from being able to. Plus, the department recommended we only needed minimal assistance - meaning it wasn't going to cost us a small fortune. Boy, how wrong we all were.

As the months went by with no results, we both began to feel the strain - emotionally and physically. I became discouraged by seeing a different physician or NP each time I headed to their office. Slowly, I felt more like cattle than a patient needing answers and help. Everything regarding my care was left to me. There was no follow up with me. If treatment failed, it was up to me to call them to schedule my follow up ultrasound. Even after our third try, and we didn't contact them again, we received no call from the department staff to inquire.

On top of all of this, our insurance covered none of our treatment. It is all considered "elective" on our plan. Added to that, the clinic location is over an hour away. So that, in addition to how we were slowly growing to dislike our care providers and service, we decided to seek out another clinic. We weren't getting any benefit by staying "in network." None of the cost was being applied to our out-of-pocket maximums or our deductible. If we were going to pay for everything, we might as well be giving the money to a clinic we felt better fit us. 

And so the search began. Were there any clinics we could go to in town? What are their success rates? What are their services? How is a patient's "case" handled? Is it one doctor or just whoever is on staff the day of the appointment? What are the fees? Financing options? We had so many questions and so many deciding factors. 

I scheduled an appointment with our current clinic and the two week wait began. We spent two weeks getting medical records and paperwork filled out. Throughout this time, we were diligently guided by our NP, Francesca. She answered any questions we had, helped us determine what from our medical records was missing. She was the only one who contacted us. It was nice to have one point of contact. In the past, I never knew who to contact - was it the first NP we saw? Or the doctor we saw last? Who was most familiar with our file? No idea. 

Then finally, the day came. We had spent about a week leading up to our appointment jotting down a long list of questions to ask. Things we wanted explained, clarification of our what ifs. We got called back by the nurse, she took vitals and brought us to Dr. S. He greeted us warmly and had us sit down to just go over basic information. We began by telling him what had led us to him. Three years and no answers...and Google. We, mostly I, had done as much research on his clinic as possible prior to our appointment. His clinic was one of the leading in the nation, some of the highest success rates. After some talking, we went to the exam room for an ultrasound. After that, we returned to his office to go over his recommendations.

Prior to him giving his diagnosis, he asked us if we had any questions. I said I had a long list and I was sure we'd cover most of them just in our discussion. He encouraged me to just ask question after question; he didn't want us to miss anything, Told us to be honest with ourselves and asked, "How many children do you want?" We replied that at the moment, we just wanted one. Just to get there. His reply is part of what sold me that I knew this was the place for us. He was frank, but not blunt, and said, "Be honest with yourselves. Prior to anything you've been through thus far, what was your desire? How many children did or do you want?" Two or three was our heart's desire. He looked at us and said, "Despite the obstacles to overcome, and there will be some, you shouldn't give up on that dream." He continued by actually explaining what everything meant. He gave his opinion on why we hadn't been able to get pregnant. We didn't have to do any outside research ourselves or just accept what was said to us.

When everything had been asked, and none of us could think of anything else to ask, he explained our next steps and that we would receive everything from Francesca that afternoon. And we did. We left the appointment with a new optimism. We knew we were in for a potentially rough ride; there are, despite everything discussed, still what ifs in the whole process, but we felt we were in the hands that would get us there. 

Since then, I have seen Dr. S another four times for appointments. And each time, it is always Dr. S. He does the exam, we sit in his office immediately afterwards to discuss where we are at, what the next steps are and what we should expect. Our appointment is always followed up with an email or call from Francesca. It is never the other physician or nurse in his practice. The front desk makes an effort to know who we are when we check-in. We're not just another client giving them money to be pushed in and out of the office, because there are another 8 appointments that day. 

This experience is very emotional; and sometimes all you need is to just have someone to guide you.  To feel that those providing care are just as invested as you are. I don't need a ton of hand-holding. But, the little hand-holding that Dr. S and Francesca have given and are giving us is just what the doctor ordered, as they say.

CONVERSATION

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