I am recovering from Covid. I wish I didn’t have to say that, but there it is. Like so many people I know, I had Covid. I am grateful that it was a mild case. Two weeks ago on Friday it was decided I should get an infusion of monoclonal antibodies. It was almost 7:00pm though before the pharmacy department could submit the orders. No one would be in the infusion clinic that late, so the woman who called me gave me a number. “Heather,” she said, “no one is there to get these orders tonight, and you should give them some time tomorrow. But if you don’t hear from anyone by mid-afternoon, call this number.” She joked that whoever answered the on-call pager number would not be happy that she gave me that number, but she didn’t want me to get lost in the system. She knew it was not ideal to be starting the process late on a Friday night, and she wanted me to be equipped with what I would need to advocate for myself.
I did need the number.
On Saturday I talked to the person who answered the on call pager number. She listened to my story and made a few calls. She let me know that I would be scheduled for Monday, and that the infusion clinic would call me Sunday to give me the details. “Heather, I want to be sure you get the information you need tomorrow. If you don’t hear from anyone by mid-afternoon tomorrow, here is the direct number to the infusion clinic.”
I didn’t need the number.
On Sunday I was given incredibly helpful details and all the information I needed. But at the end of the call, you guessed it, I was given a number to call if I had any issues on Monday.
I did need the number.
As you might imagine, UNMC is very careful with Covid positive patients. I’ve been almost everywhere at the Med Center, but this was a parking lot I had never seen. I called the number, and a woman with enormous patience talked me through turn after turn until I found my way.
My experience in the clinic was extraordinary. I’ve already written UNMC about my appointment, but what made the strongest impression on me was the way in which every single person in the process empowered me. At every step, I was in possession of the necessary information to advocate for myself.
There is a sense of calm that comes with knowing you are not dependent on people or systems to work without hiccups. There will always be hiccups. Without the numbers to call, my situation would have been fraught with anger and frustration and fear. I felt none of that. The staff made sure I had what I needed; they empowered me.
It feels good to be the one who can get things done for others, but it is far better to be the one who empowers them to get things done for themselves.