A Visit to the Pediatrician

Want to know something about having multiple children?  You forget to take them to see the Pediatrician! Well visits, are you kidding me?  If someone is sick then of course I make an appointment, but for the life of me I can’t keep up with the various months and year marks for well appointments.  Poor Maddox recently had four shots to get caught up with his immunizations.  I also received a letter from preschool stating that Gavin and Brooklyn were both missing a shot or two and that if I didn’t get that taken care of they would have to stay home.  OH MY GOSH WE MUST GO SEE THE DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY!

Taking my kids to their appointments was an interesting experience.  You see Brooklyn has our private insurance and Gavin is on AHCCCS.  I’m the momma who gets to experience our health system from both sides of the spectrum and boy does it get me heated.

Brooklyn’s appointment was first; she attends a wonderful practice and has seen her physician’s assistant since she was about 6 months old.  Immediately when you walk into the very clean building with a handicap friendly entrance, you are greeted with a ‘well’ door and a ‘sick’ door.  Choosing the well side we are able to walk in and generally stay away from the germy side.  My kids were greeted with a lovely fish tank and of course said ‘hello’ to every fish.  While I checked in the kids went and sat in front of the TV screen that was playing Frozen.  We had a few minutes before we were called back so I opened the door to the front patio where my four small children were able to run around at the beautiful and covered playground. 

After we were called back into the room my kids have the chance to look at the beautiful mural on the wall that always includes an animal or two (each room is painted differently).  We have a chance to talk about the animals while we wait.  After the P.A. visits with Brooklyn she receives her immunizations that are quickly followed by a sucker and sticker for her bravery.  And she was VERY brave because apparently I’d fallen behind on four other shots so she took five very quietly without moving.  That’s my brave girl.

A few days later I took Gavin and the other three littles to his Doctor.  Like I said before Gavin is on AHCCCS, since he is adopted it’s offered to us for free from the state until he is 18 years old.  We have the chance to decline the insurance offered to use our private carrier but everyone knows how expensive insurance is right?!?! Why wouldn’t we use the government help?  Now I know why.

Again, because my kids don’t get sick often, over a year has gone by since Gavin had been and Ryan took him the last time he saw his State appointed doctor.  This was my first experience with the assigned office and it was very unclear where the office was as we walked around some empty downtown structures before entering an unmarked building.  We walked up some broken up sidewalk to go through broken sliding doors, and down the hall we found one entrance into the Doctor’s office.  The waiting room was thankfully large and there was a small TV that was playing a VHS for the children.  It was a VHS from 1998, Lion King 2.  We were checked in with a nurse in a very small office and then they sent us back to our room. 

Before walking into our room I thought I would use the restroom, so I drug all four littles into the bathroom.  There was NO TOILET PAPER. None.  Not even a RACK that the tube is supposed to be hanging from.  There was a sink and a toilet, nothing to even dry your hands on.  So as if I was camping and with all of my children watching I got to do a little shake it off before I herded them all out.  Gross. 

I was expecting to walk into a plain room, why would this office have a mural painted on the wall?  And it was a plain room; other than the large bed that the kids sit on and a few chairs, the room was empty.  But when I say empty that also means the child-proof locks were missing from the cabinets and OUTLET plugs were nowhere to be found.  Seriously?  Outlet plugs may not be a big deal to some people but in a pediatrician’s office with small children and fingers, its really dangerous.  The entertainment in our room waiting for the Doctor consisted of my kids pulling out medical bowls and items from the cabinets and me grabbing Maddox every few seconds as he tried to put his fingers into the outlets over and over.   It was entertaining. 

After the doctor came in to see Gavin I was so relieved to walk my children out of the room and the entire office.  Obviously having four kids under the age of four doesn’t make it easy to attend appointments, but I’m used to that and its no biggie.  What is a biggie to me was the condition of the office.  I realize that FREE health care from the state for kids should be better than NO health care at all, but the reason they qualify for AHCCCS is often due to the parent’s circumstances.  For whatever reason they need it for their kids.  Many children are already afraid to see a doctor and now we are giving them a DIRTY AND UNFRIENDLY room to walk in to, a reason to be nervous while they wait around for the needle about to go in to their arm. 

I just can’t help but think that it shouldn’t be about the parents, the choices they have made or whether they work or not.  THESE ARE CHILDREN. It’s like how I feel about WIC, don’t judge the parents when they are simply trying to feed their little ones.  Oh you don’t work or make enough money? Well here, let me give your kids some free health care, they won’t have a comforting experience and might shock themselves in the rooms but at least its free.

Dream with me a little.  What would it look like if all kids in the State of Arizona ages 18 and under had fabulous Pediatrician offices available to them?  They would walk through the sick or well door depending on why they are there, and the healthy kids could steer clear of the germs.  They could have fish tanks to take their minds off of how bad they are feeling.  The TVs in both waiting rooms would be playing recent movies to grab the attention of all of the kids and even the parents who might be feeling nervous with their new babies.  If the wait was going to be longer than expected they could run onto the patio where a nice playground would keep their mind off of seeing the Doctor. 

Once called back they would be greeted with a loving Nurse and a bright, cheerful room that has paintings on the wall to spark conversations between the parents and kids.  There would be outlet plugs and cabinet locks, a no brainer.  Maybe they could have some nice board books in a basket that the staff would be able to clean with Clorox wipes for germs, and some magazines for the teens.  If they happen to be in for a shot or scary procedure, they would leave with a sticker and maybe even a sucker depending on their age. 

Like I said, it’s just a dream.  I’m not a politician and obviously there would be a great cost to cover health care for underage kids.  Not to mention a huge amount of cranky people who work hard to have good insurance that don’t want to pay for someone else’s.  But I just keep going back to the fact that THESE ARE CHILDREN.  I want my babies to have a great experience when they visit a doctor and because I know that feeling as a mom, I want the neighbor’s kids to have the same treatment as well no matter what their family circumstance is.  My dream is that all children would feel loved, cared for and safe when they enter into a Pediatrician's office, is that too much to ask for? Probably.  

*Hey Friends, this post is not meant to start a debate about immunizations so please don't go there or I will erase your comment.  It is simply a post written on my experiences at two separate Pediatrician offices that will not be named.  This also most likely does not represent what all AHCCCS offices are like, at least I hope not.

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