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Thursday, October 16, 2008

So we're 29th in infant mortality...

is that a big deal? Guess not, by the reaction of everybody (the media, the two presidential candidates, President Bush, Congress).

I think it was in 1960 that we ranked 12th in the world. We've dropped 17 places in 48 years. And we outspend the average industrial nation by (drum roll ...) 100 percent! Double!

Here's my take on this. The fact that we spend double and still drop back in the pack with regards to health care is not unrelated. Should we spend more? How much more?

The thing is, we should be spending less. We spend more and ipso facto we get less. The two factors are not unrelated, in fact they are inversely related. The more we spend the less we get. Why? Because the money that we inject into the system goes to fund insurance companies, stock dividends, CEO salaries, etc. The more the insurance companies proliferate, the less care we get. Insurance companies are in the business of not helping us, but instead helping their stockholders and the managers of the companies. The less care that they have to pay for the more money they get. Simple really.

If we eliminated all but one health care company (or simply converted everyone to Medicare) we'd save gazillions of dollars. Our per capita spending would be cut in half, aligning our care with the rest of the world. Unfortunately the insurance companies would be out of business and no more dollars would flow toward Capitol Hill. And what would the insurance lobbyists do?

Well, who really cares. No, really--who really cares?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

You wanna see the manager? Ha! I am the manager!

So this really nice lady (sarcasm!) comes up to the counter just about as I'm putting down the gates, ready to close up the joint. I say, "May I help you? Do you have a pick-up?" She says, "K...N...I..." So I type her nicely enunciated letters into the pick-up screen and nothing comes up.
"Do you have a prescription here?" I ask. "K...N...I..." I try it again, thinking maybe I just hit the wrong key. Nothing. "What is it you're looking for?" "K...N...I..." "Why don't you come down here," I say, directing her to one of the PCs at the other end of the counter.
I look up her profile and Lo! eleven days earlier we had put up two prescriptions of generic Prozac for her. I explained that we can hold prescriptions for seven days and that after that they are put away.
"I have to be somewhere in half an hour! I had an emergency vacation--how was I supposed to know you put prescriptions back?" Right. We just hold prescriptions for ... infinity. All that lost inventory? So what? We like to write stuff off.
Anyway, I say, getting my dander up, "My time is worth just as much as your time. I have to be somewhere too. And no one is paying me to re-do your prescriptions. It's on my time."
"So you're not going to service your customer?" she says, adding that she wants to see the manager.
I tell her that I'm the manager, but that I am going to get her her prescriptions. I say, Ma'am, I am going to stay here ten minutes after closing to get you her prescriptions, on my dime, just so I can exceed your expectations!"
Then I made her wait fifteen.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Where everybody knows your name ...

Remember that song from "Cheers"? It came to mind recently when a customer (a long-time customer) came up to the counter to retrieve her prescription. I recognized her, but when the day gets busy as it certainly was, I find it difficult to always match a name with the face. Sometimes I can come up with the first name, sometimes the surname, and sometimes neither. I usually get around the embarrassment by asking a date of birth. That can be a problem, however, when the gender is that of a female. Women can get quite ornery when asked a DOB (date of birth), especially when over the age of thirty-ish.

I asked for her name, thinking that that would be the lesser of two evils. Actually, I apologized, then asked for her name. Something like "I'm sorry, I can't remember your name."

She then remonstrated against my failure to recall her name. "Everybody else remembers my name!" she said.

Now, that may be true, and it may be an exaggeration (probably the latter). The thing is, I'm the supervising pharmacist, the manager of the department. I'm not supposed to spend a whole lot of time at the register. We happened to be down three people at the time, including a pharmacist on maternity leave, leaving me to fill in wherever needed, which happened to be at the register at that moment, waiting on this charming lady.

I couldn't resist being persnickety. "I'm sorry, I only have to remember a thousand people, that's all. Stupid of me, isn't it?" is all I could come up with, but the tone stated that I thought she was 1) stupid, and 2) a jerk.

But I was then a jerk, too. I wish I had handled it differently. I probably should have genuflected, apologized again, and maybe explained that with the store being so busy my brain just wasn't working as fast as it should have been. Then she most likely would say something like "Oh, that's OK; I understand."

Then again, maybe she'll pack her prescriptions off and move to the pharmacy down the street. I can only hope.