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And still they came…

Yesterday was an interesting day in clinic.

We (the city) found ourselves on the dirty side of a tropical storm/depression and so the rain started sometime between 7 and 8.  And got going real good by 9 or 10.  End result was flooding galore – street closures, stalled cars, stranded people, water everywhere.  About half the roads leading to the clinic were officially closed. It was pretty much impossible to get to us from the west.  Metro (public transportation) suspended most of its operations in our area, too. 

For the first time since we’ve been there, the water got bad enough to flood the clinic itself – a half-inch or less puddle covering our back exam rooms, cutting our capacity by about a third.

Worse, around 10 there was a brief power outage, and the surge as the power resumed apparently damaged something mission-critical in the building’s air conditioning system.  By noon, then, the temp inside the clinic was 80 F and climbing…

And yet the patients still came.  I had only one patient no-show for the morning.  The afternoon was lighter than usual because I usually leave slots open for the last-minute callers, and by lunchtime we’d decided all last-minute callers would not be offered appointments.. but I still saw a good number of people.  Many of these people didn’t have urgent problems – there were a couple kids who needed some shots for the next school year, for example, and several people just there to follow up on long-term conditions. 

We physicians were offered the option to cancel our afternoon clinics.  I chose not to because they didn’t offer the same option to my staff – my nurses were told that if they went (or got sent) home, they’d have to burn vacation hours to get paid for the afternoon. I thought that was an obnoxious policy decision on the part of the stuffed-shirts upstairs, and chose to keep my clinic open so my staff could get paid for the afternoon.  I’m confident my institution lost money on us and it serves them right 🙂

All of which reminds me of what happened recently in New York when the subways flooded.  Even though commuting was near-impossible, even though many institutions were without power, even though there were concerns that things could get a lot worse instead of getting better…. very few businesses actually shut down and few employers bothered to try to do anything to enable/encourage their employees and customers to get off the roads.  This makes me rather grumpy.


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