A few weeks ago, 2 of our phone lines rang simultaneously. The receptionist answered one, and my technician grabbed the other. I was sitting between them, and it was like listening to a conversation in stereo.
My receptionist, "no, we don't take payment plans. That is our policy. You can try to apply for CareCredit. Yes, that does sound very serious, and it sounds like your pet is in critical condition..."
On the other side of me, my technician was having the almost exact same conversation, "no, ma'am, we did not arrange payments with your cousin on Monday. No, ma'am, we do not take payments. If you would like to, I can give you the number for CareCredit, so you can apply. Yes, it sounds like your pet needs medical care ASAP..."
Over the next several hours, these people called back multiple times. They were describing a laterally recumbent, vomiting, incredibly lethargic female dog. They insisted they had not a single cent to their names. Finally, I told my receptionist to relay to the owners that they could bring the dog in, if her condition was extremely critical, I would euthanize her without charging them. They had to understand that they would not see or talk to me, but I would examine their dog and make a decision.
A few hours later, FIVE adults showed up with a very, very sick female dog that had never been spayed. She could not stand, her temperature was 105+, and she was having excruciating abdominal pain. Her condition was extremely critical. I gave her a large dose of fentanyl IV for her pain, then told my technician to relay that I would euthanize the dog, as she was dying in front of me and would shortly die without intervention. I then stood around the corner from the front desk and heard this,
"Well, can't the doctor give her a shot to make her better?" (If only!)
"Can't you take a post-dated check? None of us get paid till Friday."
"Is she really that sick? Can she make it to go to our veterinarian in the morning?" (The dog had never had any vaccines, intact, was not on HW prevention, and they had listed no referring veterinarian on their intake form.)
Between five adults, not a single one had the $92 it would have taken to pay me to come in and talk to them about their dog's condition? I could have been kind and gone out there to talk to him, but listening to these FIVE -- FIVE!!! -- adults go on and on about their lack of money, I got madder and madder. All of them had cellphones, yet no one could come up with $92 to talk to me.
In this case, I truly believe it was a matter of priority versus reality. They didn't WANT to pay for my expertise. They wanted to bully the receptionist until she caved in and summoned me - that was obvious. In the end, they finally left. I euthanized the poor dog, bringing to a close another frustrating situation. At least I was able to relieve the poor patient's suffering, which is some small measure of victory.
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