Disclaimers; I’m writing this blog in hopes that it helps both patients and providers of what used to be formerly called Hennepin County Medical Center but is now called Hennepin Healthcare.
The last blog that I did about HCMC, was NOT good in 2014. It wasn’t because a doctor that I had seen who was super kind, but she refused to treat me at all in the Urgent Care even though I didn’t want to go to their ER, so I left without any care, because their ER did and still scares me, but hopefully the insight I give can help what was great respectful attention by their physicians, something I’m not used to getting as a former “frequent flyer” at Fairview University Medical Center, for teaching purposes, if they or other patients who are local can find any value in this blog.
February of 2018 was not a fun a month medically or with anxiety.
I’m not shy about being a medical activist of sorts, but one who loathes seeking ANY kind of medical attention at all, but especially with any provider that I have no previous history with, such as my Fairview PCP who’s been my doctor for like almost 20 years now, but is 50 miles away from where I live.
I’m a complex patient with a lot of quirks.
The one good thing is I am fully aware of what my barriers are and at the same time can identify pretty clearly what’s a barrier but also what could be a potential medical event in me.
I ended up with an episode of A-fib with no cardiac history that actually didn’t send me to the UR or ER about 2 weeks prior to the visit I had on 2-28-2018.
I did end up going to the Urgent Care originally on that date when I had severe radiating upper quadrant pain and for a long term gastric bypass (and reversal!!!) patient, I still not only have my gallbladder, but appendix and tonsils, pretty much all my parts I was born with.
The nice urgent care PA that I saw originally did want to send me over to the ER. He knew my hesitancy though, so he did everything to rule out stuff he could in the Urgent Care by doing an EKG and chest x-ray which was normal and then he strongly suggested I go over there and this time I decided to do so, knowing my youngest’s birthday was in 4 weeks and if something was wrong but easily correctable, I didn’t want to be super sick and ruin her birthday.
The hardest part for seeking medical attention in an acute care setting truthfully boiled down to this particular reason:
Last time I was in an ER was at HCMC in 11/2014, 2 days prior to above mentioned UR visit first due to intractable projectile vomiting then for what felt like could be pneumonia or apsirating the vomiting.
Last time I was in an ER at FUMC was over 5 years ago and it was so bad, the ER doctor treated me like a drug seeking hypochondriac who resented that I got my PCP involved and sent me home not knowing I’d be stuck having to get home in a cold snow storm walking while weak and in an altered state of consciousness due to severe pain for a mile, prior to the Blue Line being built as I couldn’t obtail a medical ride home (something I’m eligble for but there was no availability at that time of night) , got lost on campus and it took me 2 hours to find a bus that would get me home, even though I only live 2 miles away and put me at further risk.
I never held against that doctor of not suspecting at the time my medical event, which was to get worse was due to an IUD (Mirena, which I ended up Mirena crashing) but I had a lot of severe symptoms such as projectile vomiting blood and intractable atypical migraines (for me, as I do have a migraine history) that she didn’t run one diagnostic on me, in 2/2013.
Truthfully the nurse I ended up having last month was kind of a jerk (I’ll elaborate more, later). I was nervous and slightly wordy and I think I got on his nerves.
The resident and the doctor in charge though of the ER, was AWESOME.
They were patient and kind, they took me at my word (it also helped with my history of not seeking frequently acute attention) that I was in a lot of unusual pain for me.
They didn’t label me and they didn’t make me feel bad, being at a level 1 trauma center, when it ended up being a potential gallbladder attack.
The ONLY disconcerting thing about the visit was that my anxiety was high because there was patients who were out of control, such as one screaming patient being restrained to a gurney, the other was screaming and wandering around the ER.
When that happened, I did tell my nurse I was going to have a cigarette because I was having an enormous amount of anxiety and a terrible panic attack and when I went to do that the first time, the nurse was kind of a jerk.
FUMC will NOT let you out of the ER, once you’re roomed and I sorta get it, unless you’re not on IV narcs which I wasn’t on nor was I asking for.
But the nurse didn’t seem to understand that with other wandering patients, I didn’t want to appear to be a security risk, as a stupid smoker nor did I want any doctors having to go look for me, as I had a diagnostic that still needed to be done.
When the 2nd time I went to have a cigarette and told the same uncaring nurse, the resident in charge of my care, overheard and said that she would be in after I came back.
She made no judgement about my smoking outside, when in an ER, she got that I was trying to be respectful of her time and was super kind, respectful and caring.
Because I live only 2 blocks away and my anxiety was high, it was okay with her, after my ultrasound that showed gallstones, that I could go home, but with the understanding I’d come back if there was something wrong with my bloodwork, which I appreciated.
A few days later when I spoke to my PCP on the phone and was explaining the difference in quality of care between hospital systems, because I needed a referral to a general surgeon for a potential cholesysectomy, if not a hernia repair (I’ve had a hernia for the last 7 years because of my open rny reversal) she asked what hospital to do it for.
She understood that I’d rather go to a hospital where the patients scare me a lot. than the doctors do. That I’d be okay with an outpatient procedure at HCMC vs. FUMC because the quality of care in consideration, is better.
I don’t think either hospital system is going to read this blog, even though I will forward it to HCMC, okay, now called Hennepin Healthcare, as while it’s not for me to second guess a hospital that has a psych ER, of why patients are in a medical unit, maybe that needs to be addressed first as medical issues being addressed, before they get transferred to psych.
But I am good patient. I’m honest that I’m not fully compliant in things. I know my traits, such as if I’m nervous, even if I’m sick, will make anxiety prone and pace and I’ll explain that to medical staff, in case it scares them.
I’m also super polite and respectful of authority unless a doctor treats me like total crap and while I can be blunt and abrasive, I’m not abusive nor do I have any violent tendancies other than I can be mean in my wording, when super provoked, and if that happens (which it has multiple times in the ER at FUMC, I’ve just disconnected an IV in an ER of saline and gone home, that’s it, it’s a big deal but doesn’t make me a safety threat to anyone other than myself but I get treated like I’m a safety threat potentially to the entire hospital, short of security being called).
The only thing I do want to get across to Hennepin Healthcare, is that truthfully, even though I’m a mental and medical health advocate and blogger, I AM afraid to be in their ER and I’m afraid to have an inpatient procedure there, as truthfully I’d admit, I’m not above being admitted and wanting, if not leaving, to go home, if I’m scared enough and I get that where that can be disconcerting if not a liability to a hospital, but I can’t stay somewhere when vulnerable but not feeling safe.
But I’ll take my chances at Hennepin Healthcare vs. FUMC where I trust that the respect will be there and I’m not so quick to be labeled.
At least if it’s outpatient care and that’s something I hope they will address further within their hospital as far as potential safety risks to patients and appreciate that the time I’ve taken, because I wasn’t given any kind of followup inquiry on how the service was for that UR/ER visit, that they take both in consideration my appreciation of their kindness but my fear of unstable patients not being monitored closely and a burnt out ER nurse who had absolutely NO reason to be rude to me.
Note: I realize this was SUPER wordy. I couldn’t convey anything of due importance in giving feedback that read like a Tweet.