Life update (in which I write a long diatribe):
My paternal grandmother passed away last week. She'd had a variety of health problems over the past several years (diabetes, Parkinson's, shingles, other things) and we're grateful she isn't suffering, but it's hard to be far away, of course. Because of the COVID spike in Taiwan (~200 cases yesterday), travel restrictions are tighter than ever, so only my parents went to Taiwan. They're required to get a negative test before flying (reasonable) and stay in quarantine for 14 days once they arrive (reasonable) IN SEPARATE HOTEL ROOMS. The Taiwanese government published a list of exceptions to the separate quarantine, including little kids being able to stay with their parents or if you have a health condition that means you need to be accompanied.
We messaged my dad's doctor asking for a note, as she recently treated him for gout and was concerned about his blood pressure and some other factors. We explained that on top of the physical health conditions, we're worried about my dad's frame of mind, given that he's grieving his mother, so having to isolate in a hotel room (can't cross the threshold once you go in) for 14 days could be traumatic for his mental health. Given the complexities of arranging international travel during a pandemic and after a death in the family, we didn't message my dad's doctor until after hours on Monday (parents' flight was in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday and they landed in the early afternoon California time). This didn't give the doctor very much time to respond, since they would need the documentation before they left the airport, but obviously it's not like we'd been planning this trip for ages. It was a rather sudden situation.
I called the advice line Tuesday morning to see if I could expedite things, and the person said they would pass along the message to the doctor's office, but that normal messages (like mine and the one from the advice line) would normally be responded to within 24 hours. Checking my dad's messages obsessively, I hadn't seen any response from the doctor, so I called again an hour before they were due to land in Taiwan. The advice line person was really nice and said they would try to convey the urgency, but that the doctor's office was on their lunch break then, so unlikely to answer the phone. They also said I could call back if I continued to not get a response and also told me good luck. I tried again 10 minutes before my parents' flight was due to land, and the advice line person tried to call the doctor's office directly, but got no response. My parents are now quarantining in separate rooms.
This morning, the doctor's assistant called me and said, "I see that you were asking for a note from the doctor. I'm calling to see how that's going." I explained that the note was for my father, why we requested the note, why it was an urgent request yesterday, but now it was too late. The assistant told me that the doctor said she wouldn't be able to write a note for my dad because he doesn't have a serious medical condition. I told her that I understood, but I wish I'd been able to speak with someone in the office yesterday, because it's not just about my dad's physical conditions, it's also the fact that HIS MOTHER DIED AND HE HAS TO SIT IN A ROOM BY HIMSELF FOR FOURTEEN DAYS. She said that the file indicated that another assistant had "conveyed the doctor's message to the patient's daughter."
THAT WAS FALSE. I never received a call from them. I didn't speak to anyone in that office yesterday. I didn't have any voicemails. (At one point when I called the advice line and left my information, they asked if it would be acceptable to leave a voicemail, and I said yes.) I just messaged the doctor again and will give her some time to respond, but as I said: I would have appreciated more compassion, but I'm particularly upset about the outright lie in the medical record.
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