Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Prime Example

People joke about how inefficient the government is.  We all know its true.  When you get smacked in the face with a prime example of just how ridiculous things are sometimes, though, it still manages to shock you.

I am still embroiled in the fight for health care.

Today, I spent the most inane day chasing a fictitious person or department that I think I have ever spent, and to no avail.  I think my time would have been better spent buying lottery tickets or chasing the end of a rainbow to look for a pot of gold.

Actually, my chase started yesterday.  I called my insurance, Tricare, again, to check for a change in my status.  There was none.  I ask specifically who I needed to speak with at Balboa, as the number on my referral paperwork didn't answer.  I was told to speak with the "Referral Management Center", but they had no number aside from the main appointment line to give me.  Fine.  I can go from there.

I called the number on my paperwork a few more times to no avail.  Instead, I opted for the Quarterdeck.  For those who don't know, the Quarterdeck is the main reception desk, if you will, at any command.  Balboa is a military command.  I called and the the typical answer that sounds like "Wahwahwah..whahwahwhahwawawah..Sir or Ma'am".  In reality, each command says the same thing when they answer the phone.  They state the name of the command, their name and rank, that it is a non secure line, and ask how they can help you, "Sir or Ma'am".  All I ever understand is the "Sir or Ma'am" and I know that is my cue to start speaking.   I told the Quarterdeck person who I was looking for, and was put on hold.  She came back, ask again, and put me on hold again.  After a bit of a wait, a man answered, and I only got the Sir or Ma'am.  So, I assumed another person sitting at the desk picked up, and I just started talking again.  Turns out, she had transferred me.  I still don't know where, but this guy must work somewhere she thought I should be talking to.  After I told him who I was looking for, he put me on hold.  He came back and ask me exactly what I was trying to do because he couldn't find any department labeled "Referral Management Center".  After he sort of understood, he put me on hold again.  We did this questions and answer session followed by a hold period about 4 times.  After the second, I could hear a female voice trying to assist him when he came back on the line.  Then, we hit a break through.  He realized what I was trying to reach, and told me he knew that they existed, and where they were located on the (very large) campus, but he had no name for the department or phone number.  I ask for the location and was given building 6, third deck, aka third floor.  Finally, they came to the realization that there was no further information they could give me.  They only had the location, and were never going to be able to find the phone number or name of the department.  That was it.  That was all I was going to get.
 So, today, armed with that mother load of information, a paper copy of my referral, and the anger of a wet hen, I headed down there to clear all this up.  The whole family went.  I felt it prudent to take someone with me, and with that someone being My Husband, the kids got in on the show, too.  Once we got there, my husband pulled up as close to building 6 as possible and let The Big One and I out while he went to park.  We go in, and head to the third floor.  We step off the elevator, and immediately my day gets worse.  The entire floor is children's mental health.  Now, had it just been mental health, I might have thought it was a dig at me, and may have even stayed to chat at that point, after all someone needs to know that Balboa is creating additional patients for that department themselves.  However, it wasn't.  Not to be deterred, I went to the reception desk, and told them that the Quarterdeck had sent me there, and who I was looking for.  They were a bit perplexed.
They conferred for a minute and decided it was just a little screw up.  "Oh.  Its the 4th deck that you need.  All that admin stuff is up there."
So, The Big One and I got back in the elevator and she hit 4.  I texted My husband to tell him he could then find us on the 5th floor.
The door opened, we got out, checked out the signs, and I think my blood pressure raised 10 points on either side.  None of the offices listed seemed to be what I was looking for.  After all, I have no name, but I was hoping I could figure it out.  Again, not deterred, I had to find someone to ask.  There was no receptionist, only individual offices.  So, I peeked around the corner to speak to whomever was in the break room.  I again explained the whole deal.  If you read my blog much, and are familiar with my struggle, you might be able to guess what she told me.  I needed the 5th floor.  That department must be there.  Of course they must.
We headed for the elevator.  I repeated my last text with the 5th floor change.  There was a reception desk.   I ask the lady there, who looked completely confused.  She took me to an office where Woman 1 sat.  Having the story down pat, I quickly explained what I needed.  Woman1 said she couldn't help me, but was going to take me to someone who could.  WE went into Man1's office.  Man1 said that wasn't his department, but that he knew who I needed.  Across from his office was Woman2 and Man2.  Woman one goes in there, starts to look up the info that I need with Woman2, as Man1 discusses the whole thing with them.  After a while, Man1 gives up, but not the two ladies.  They went to town trying to figure it out.  I was amazed, they actually kind of got what I was trying to do, and were determined to help me find the right people.  After, no joke, 25 minutes of ridiculous phone calls, they finally found the right department.  They had a name, location, and phone number.  They were amazed.  They couldn't believe it had been that difficult for them to find.  Turns out, the department was in building 6, but floor 2, right before construction started.  Since their floor was completely closed for renovations, they had moved to a building all the way across the campus.  They had also changed their name, to Utilization Management, but must not have put that out too well.

Now, as an aside, I want to point out that it was difficult for them, and they work in that system.  They actually know people, faces, and positions, and they were getting a terrible run around trying to figure it out.  How am I supposed to be able to navigate this system if even the people who work in it can't?

Woman2 was speaking with someone, and said that I was standing right there.  She handed me the phone.  I got on the phone and ended up speaking the department head.  I had to explain my self for the zillionth time.  She understood and told me she couldn't help me.  She pulled up my information, and the way the man I last spoke with in December, who scheduled appointment for Balboa, had closed out my referral, she couldn't do anything.  They had said to have me start a new referral 4 weeks out for my delivery.  That won't work for us.  I might have organs falling out of my body by then.  She told me that I needed to go to the surgery department, get them to fix it, and release me.  If they couldn't, we needed to start all over again with a brand new referral and hope that Balboa didn't screw up.  As long as I talked to her before Balboa got to the referral, she could take care of it.

Just wow.

They really only know how to screw things up, and not to fix it.

I did go over to surgery, and to sum up, the man who made the appointment took notes, because he didn't understand what I as saying medically, and said he would speak to the department head.  If the department head agreed to release me, he would let me know the next day.  That's it.  That's all that can be done.

All that time, all that effort.  Just to wait for a phone call.   Tomorrow morning, either he calls me as promised, or I will call him, and his department head, or whom ever else I need to.  If I need to throw in an Admiral somewhere, so be it.  Let's just get this party started.

I know this has been a long post, but thanks for sticking with me.  You see how much time government inefficiency waists.  Had they not been such screw ups, we could have all been done with post and moved on already.  In fact, I think my coffee is cold and I need to reheat it now.  Just More unnecessary waist of our resources as a result of government bureaucracy.