(By the way, the only reason I was there in January was that when I called to make my six-month appointment--which should have been in November--they didn't have an appointment available for the next two months. But they told me at the time that it was just because of the holidays and that May would be wide open for appointments.)
So, you can guess where this is going, right? I called a month in advance and they STILL didn't have any appointments left until JUNE. JUNE. So then I said, OK, let me make my one-year appointment for June and then can I make an appointment sometime this month just for a fill? And they said no, even just for a fill it'll be the end of May.
But, they had an excuse. Their excuse is, my surgeon has left the practice. He's no longer affiliated with the hospital. He's moved to a new hospital where he will be setting up a brand new bariatric department. Which is actually kind of cool.
I actually knew that already, that he'd left, and at the time I didn't worry about it because I hadn't actually seen my surgeon since last May. I work exclusively with his physician's assistant, who was also present at my surgery and who does all my fills, and the practice's social worker and nutritionist (whom I've met a couple times each--once before the surgery, once at the three-month mark, and once at the six-month mark).
But what I didn't know was that my surgeon took his assistant with him. His assistant was my primary point of contact at the office and my primary source of care. She and I met about once a month for the first six months, and every 2-3 months since then. She knows me, and I know her. We're friendly, and she knows my whole history. She knows exactly where the port is on my band and how to do a fill for me quickly and painlessly. She knows my exercise routine and exactly what to recommend when I have questions. She's great.
So, I decided to follow my surgeon and physician's assistant to their new hospital. Really, I see no downsides to this. Here are the upsides that I see:
- I stick with the same main sources of care that I've had since my surgery.
- I don't have to wait two months to get an appointment for a fill that takes three minutes (or less) to do.
- The new hospital is actually closer and more convenient to our house than the old hospital.
- Because I'll be one of a small number of patients in the practice, at least at the beginning, I have more direct access to the doctor himself with questions.
Then he told me, we're hoping to start accepting patients in early May but it's a slow process and I can't make promises. So, if you want a fill in the meantime I'd recommend that you go to the old office. And I told him that the old office had a two-month wait time just for a fill. And then he told me, OK, he'd set me up to come in for a fill even before he's officially opened up his practice. And since he hasn't received his insurance approval yet, and can't delay billing, he'll just do it for free. (Normally, fills cost a $30 "specialist" co-pay, or, if your insurance doesn't cover it, it's a $50 "self-pay" rate.)
So, yeah. Basically, he is awesome, and this is working out really well. A free fill! A $30 value! (Not to mention the reimbursement he's not going to get from my insurance company for the rest of the cost of the fill.) Direct access to the doctor himself! No wait times! A much shorter drive!
The only thing I can think of that is even a slight negative is switching social workers and nutritionists, but I only meet with them once a year from here on out and I'm sure the people at the new practice will be great anyway.
So basically: win win WIN. Happy Friday!