Before I start, I must clarify that this rant is not about my usual ‘Digital vs. Analogue’ grief. It’s more about the absurdities surrounding the ongoing ‘Authorities vs. COVID’ battle.
On Boxing Day, I had a health emergency of sorts and visited the emergency department of a nearby hospital (it’s not a good time to fall ill, I know!). The ED doctor who treated me then arranged an appointment for me to see a specialist doctor at the hospital’s outpatient clinic a few days later.
On December 30, I turned up at the clinic for my appointment – only to be told: “Go and get tested for COVID, otherwise you can’t see any doctors here. As soon as you get your negative result, go back to the emergency department and reschedule your appointment.” (Well, no-one had warned me about such prerequisite!)
Straight away, just after 10am, I joined the seemingly never-ending queue for PCR testing that snaked around a hospital building and well into adjacent parking areas. By the time I finally reached the testing clinic and had my swabs taken, it was nearly 4:30pm.
…LOOK, I came here to see a doctor because I’m sick! Why on earth am I forced to stand in the queue outside for SIX AND A HALF BLOODY HOURS to get tested for COVID?!?!
It’s not that I had any COVID symptoms, came into close contact with an infected person or visited any hotspots. But I stayed home anyway after the test and waited… and waited… and waited forever for my result.
On the eighth day, my result – negative – finally came through via a phone call (I don’t have a mobile phone to receive messages, remember?) and the lady on the other end of the line added that I’d no longer need to show my negative test result to seek hospital treatment. As we now know, while I was in isolation, the federal and state governments have agreed to remove some testing requirements to ease pressure on testing clinics.
…Then what did I wait SIX AND A HALF HOURS in the queue AND isolate EIGHT DAYS for?!!?!
What a joke! Even if I were COVID-positive at the time of testing, the chances are that I would no longer be infectious by the time I got my result after more than a week’s wait. And even if you are not Novak Djokovic, you can see how inconsistent or downright absurd some of those government rules are. It’s easy for bureaucrats to tell us to get tested or vaccinated, but do we really have enough resources (human or otherwise) to follow through on it?
I feel sorry for the staff both at the testing clinic and the pathology lab who took my swab and processed it for NOTHING. We all know they are already under the pump due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, and they don’t need any extra (and unnecessary) pressure.
UPDATE: My battle for hospital treatment continues
Well, it is January 11 now and I’m still waiting to see a specialist doctor. Right after I got my negative COVID result on January 7, I returned to the emergency department as directed. However, the receptionist said that, to reschedule my specialist appointment, I’d have to wait to see an emergency doctor and repeat the whole process all over again. So she suggested that I give the outpatient clinic a call as soon as they reopened on January 11.
But now the outpatient operator explained that COVID testing requirement had indeed been waived for all outpatient clinics EXCEPT the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic, and that’s where I need to go. The reason being that ENT patients need to take their face masks off to be examined, exposing the doctors to a higher risk of COVID infection. And now I was asked to provide a negative result by Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) immediately before my appointment.
…BUT HANG ON A MINUTE.
My conditions relate to inner ear issues. I didn’t know that COVID passed through ear canals, and I don’t suppose I’d need to take my mask off and say “ahhh…” to have my ears checked? Besides, RAT test kits are a rare commodity across the country right now; how the hell am I going to get my hands on it, anyway?
The operator got my point and said she’d get back to me as soon as she found out the answers to my queries. So stay tuned for Update #2.
P.S. – During my conversation with the outpatient clinic, I also found out that my negative PCR test result had already been recorded on the hospital’s system on January 2 after all. Apparently, no-one bothered to call my landline to let me know the result until January 7. Now, this rant is truly getting into the ‘Digital vs. Analogue’ territory…
UPDATE #2: Finally, after four weeks’ wait…
Another round of waiting game, and no further information was forthcoming from the hospital. On January 19, I called the outpatient clinic again to find out what was doing with my appointment. This time, the receptionist managed to hastily arrange my appointment for January 21 and told me to have a PCR test two days before that, which was, like, RIGHT NOW. So, as soon as I got off the phone, I jumped out the door and rushed to the hospital’s testing clinic. Thankfully, there were only a dozen or so people waiting in the line this time, and I was able to get my result – negative again – the following day.
Finally – almost FOUR WEEKS after my emergency admission – I visited the ENT Clinic and was tended to by no fewer than four doctors: a senior doc, a junior doc and two interns. (Wow, thanks for the VIP treatment! I hope I was a good specimen for their learning…)
The senior doc explained some potential causes of my illness, referred me for an MRI scan for further investigation and ordered a follow-up consultation in three months’ time – with yet another PCR test two days before that, of course.