Monday, August 11, 2008


Oh, how I hate Irwin Army Health Center...with a passion.

I have had nothing but crap from there since we have been here...with only ONE notable exception (when I had my hysterectomy - they took care of everything in the OB/GYN clinic, which made my life easier).

Appointments? Never had such a hard time getting one as I do here. I don't make routine appointments...or rarely do. My kids don't get sick on command, you know. So when they ARE sick, I want them to be seen. Mind you, I'm not one to take my kid in at the first sign of a sniffle or cough or a bit of a temperature. But when it's been a few days of fever, I'm going to want to see a doctor. Used to be, you called in right at "opening" and were able to get a same day appointment. Any more, you have to practically be emergency room material before they'll grant you the privilege of seeing the "same day doc". And while I'm sure the appointment line people are only doing their jobs, I don't know when it became their job to "triage" patients. I know, I'm picking on people who do what they are told...and they probably have a list of "have and have not" symptoms. High fever for 3 days? not enough. Runny nose with cough and green mucous for a week? We can try to get you an appointment in a week or so.

What gives the SCHEDULER the right to triage? When did THAT become acceptable? Honestly, I know too many people are calling in with petty needs...those gangrenous toes won't fall off today, so PLEASE let me transfer you to the standard appointment line.....

That's been one of my big pet took me close to 6 months of TRYING to get a routine appointment to finally get in. And believe me, I made sure that EVERY complaint I had was managed at that one appointment, even though there's a notice posted everywhere that says "please limit complaints to three problems per visit"...SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?!

And though Tricare (the insurance/provider) allows for "well child" appointments for kids up to age 6, IACH has altered their policy and will only do these types of appointments for children up to 2. Of course, at age 4, many kids need immunizations...but since they don't DO "well child" appointments, these immunizations often get overlooked, as was the case with Scotty.

But today. That was the straw that broke the camel's back.

On Friday, Scotty had an appointment (made back in late June) for his preschool physical. I knew he would need a few immunizations (see above) and I was SURE he needed the chicken pox booster (it's required by KS schools, anyway). So, we got there for his physical. They were actually quite efficient with the school physical thing. They had a solid routine down, as they have a lot of new kids (and again, KS law requires a school physical for all kids entering a KS school for the first time, including pre-schools that are operated by the school system). Our paperwork was screened, and sure enough, Scotty needed a few vaccines. We were seen almost immediately...had the weight and height screening (39 lbs - 75th percentile, 40 inches - 50th percentile...oh so typical of my kids, lol), had the physical with a doctor (perfectly fine), had his vision checked (20/20 both eyes), and we got to immunizations. We had to be somewhere and we knew that if we did shots we'd be too late, so we opted to come back. I asked if this would be okay. They told me it wasn't a problem. They told me to just come back on Monday and go to the Immunization clinic.

So that is what we did today. We went back. And were told that all immunizations are done by appointment only. With the exception of kids under 2. No exception for school physicals/school requirements. I explained that this was NOT what I was told at the Primary Care clinics. Too bad, that's how it works; I'm sorry. I explained that I'd driven all the way from Manhattan (15 miles!) and that it was not cost effective for me to keep driving back and forth. No dice, no sympathy. I asked if there was ANY way we could be seen today. "Well, I can take you back, but I can guarantee you that you will NOT be seen today...they're just SO busy"...(there was one family in the waiting room, another was doing the "mandatory 20 minute wait" after shots, and NO ONE in the two (possibly three) rooms used for immunizations.

I am so totally over this clinic. We are treated like chattel here. There aren't enough PCM (primary care manager) changes more frequently than the weather. I get letters every few weeks telling me the name of my new doctor. I've been through at least 4 without actually seeing any of them, as they change before I ever need an appointment.

And the worst part is that I don't have the option to go elsewhere. The MTF (military treatment facility) makes the decision as to whether I can go "off post" or it subject to their rules and regulations, not Tricare's, though Tricare DOES have the option of doctors in the community. The MTF here (IACH) doesn't regularly allow you to use civilian care. If you choose to do so, you must switch from Tricare Prime (which is the best possible coverage) to Standard (which is a Point of Service plan, including deductibles, co-pays, etc). That's not what we pay for. And yes, we DO pay. Medical care for military members may be "free" but for the family, it comes out of the soldier's paycheck.

I have already filed my complaint with IACH, though it will do little good. The last time I filed my complaint (regarding the fact that it took me 6 months to get an appointment), I requested a reply....I'm still waiting.


Suzanne said...

AMEN. What more can I say? I dread finding out how difficult it is here. Ugh.
Maybe South Carolina will be better. When do you go?

Barbara said...

Oh let me tell you. I have a couple things that I need to see a doctor for but I won't go. First, I hate doctors and second, you just can't get in to be seen. At least Jorden has it a bit better now that she exclusively sees a developmental pediatrician at a different clinic. Soldiers get sick call but we get crap.

ali mocabee said...

Yup...I feel your pain. I keep telling myself to go Tricare Standard. One of these days I will do it!

Sue said...

In the end as with all insurances, the best "coverage" is not necessarily the best "service" We changed our coverage to a very high deductible coverage -- you know what -- we are getting much better service AND pricing from both scripts and docs -- go figure might be worth the hassle to switch to an insurance plan that will give you more options even if it seems like you will pay more in the end..........the way you use your coverage -- it may be beneficial -- hugs & kisses

Bob-kat said...

Sounds horrendous. My Doctors clinic are similar. They expect sick people to queue up outside to get a same day morning appointment (no matter what the weather and no shelter), you have to ring in a specified half hour slot to get a same day afternoon appointment and they refuse to let you book appointments with a doctor of your choice ahead of time (so they can report that people are seen on the same day on their governemnt reported stats). My doctor asked me to go back towards the end of Sept. and the receptionist refused to book me in saying I would have to call on the day and then she couldn't guarantee I would see the same doctor. Ridiculous! Where is the continuity of care? I finally persuaded her to make me an appointment. I get the impression that like you your doctors, they have forgotten that they are actually dealing with human beings.

You have my sympathy.

Berry Patch said...

I feel your pain - honestly I do. It took me seven months & two appeals to get my new insulin pump. Then I found out four months ago my insurance wasn't paying the pump company for my supplies - to the tune of about $3,000 at that point. So now my pump company refuses to work directly with my insurance company - even though they have now paid & all is hunky-dory - so to speak anyway. The pump company wants me to pay out of pocket & gee I can even pay monthly - it's only $345.50!! And then get money directly from my insurance. Yeah right. BTW, my pump company is Omni-Pod - I so do NOT recommend going with them. This is actually just one major complaint I have with them. Ugh!

saintseester said...

My sister is also in the TRICARE system, and she basically calls it bill and hillary's practice run for universal health care.

Her daughter had strep throat, on a Friday, and she was told she had to wait until Monday to come in. Huh? Thankfully, she had the resources to go to a walkin clinic - can you imagine having strep throat for 3 days without being seen?

The Mrs. said...

I feel your pain. Feel it and live it. Whats with the problems getting sick kids seen? If I knew my kid was going to be sick three weeks ago I would have called then.

I'm curious what your take on keller was. good bad or about the same as IACH?