So my foot needs attention. I have been to the Emergency Department once before at the beginning of August, and had x-rays that showed up no bones broken. With the problem persisting I returned to Hamad ED yesterday morning to see if they could refer me to a podiatrist. I got there before 8am so as to catch them before they got too busy.
However Hamad ED said that because my foot was an ongoing old problem, they could not see me and gave me a small piece of paper with the name of the clinic where I could go to see a family doctor (GP if your a Brit). Fair enough, I acknowledge this is not an emergency and I thank them for directing me to the correct department. They then point me to a security guard who tried to give me directions to the clinic, which by the way is not easy to find and their piece of paper should be larger with a map on it.
On arrival I find the door to the clinic locked with loads of people sat on the wall outside. I scan the doors for something telling me if the place is due to open soon. There is no signage to say why the door is locked. I walked around a bit confused as to what to do. Those sat on the wall waiting didn’t seem to speak English and I was about to leave when someone with a little English came forward and said “Doctor? See doctor?” to which I replied yes. The kind man then walked me to a location where he could point to the actual entrance further down the road. This entrance had no signage, and there was nothing there to say what the entrances function was for.
The entrance took me into an outside yard with people milling around. Groups of people were everywhere and doors with cues sticking out could be possible places for me to go and stand. But where should I go and what should I do? I was unable to spot anyone in a uniform for quite some time, and I was getting glared at by the majority of those in the yard. I felt out of place and very uncomfortable. Eventually a man wearing a uniform walk near by, it could have been a taxi drivers uniform for all I knew, but he had an ID badge so I thought I would have a go at talking to him. I asked if this was the walk in clinic and he said it was. I have to stress this was the first confirmation I was in the right place. I then asked him where I should go, and he pointed me to a cue sticking out of one of the buildings entrances. I thanked him and went and stood in the cue. I’m aware that I am different to everyone else there. I am aware that I am being stared at. My discomfort is building. But I would like to see a doctor, and I seem to be getting closer to doing that.
The cue eventually brings me into the building and a short distance inside I encounter a small table with two men sitting in uniform wearing surgical masks. By this time I wished I was wearing a surgical mask 🙁 . When it was my turn to talk to them they asked me what the problem was. I said I had a painful foot. They pressed a button on a cue ticket machine, took the ticket, wrote something on it and told me to go to reception.
This room was quite large with many rows of seating and every seat had an occupant, In addition there were many stood around and I realised that many I had seen outside had tickets in their hands as well. My heart sank. I decided I would persevere and wait however long it took, so I proceeded to try and locate the un-signed reception. I spotted a small cue around a corner and went to investigate. It had a small window with a speaking hole, and I correctly surmised that this was the cue for reception. Boy I would have paid good money for a surgical mask by this point. While stood in this cue I decided to tweet my location and the fact I was expecting a long wait, and I popped an image in to depict the wait I was expecting to be involved in.
When I got to the window I was asked for my ID and my Health Card along with the ticket I had been given with writing on. After he had finished texting something on his phone, the young man took my details and entered some details into his screen. He asked if this was my first time there and I answered in the affirmative. He then scribbled out some of what was handwritten on my ticket (which was not in English so I had no idea what it said) and he then added the letter ‘C’ and told me I could go. Within a second somebody was barging me out of the way and already talking to the young man behind the glass before I could even vacate my spot. I interrupted this new conversation by asking the young man where I was free to go to. He pointed to some double doors with a security guard outside and told me to go there. So off I went.
I showed the security guard my amended ticket and he let me through into a brighter, more modern looking waiting room which was better lit, had seating which was much more sparsely occupied and did not resemble a livestock market I use to attend in West Wales. I located door C which had a cue system stating 001. Now I have to be honest I can’t recall when I got given my second cuing ticket which clearly indicated C 21. It may have been the security guard on my way into this room, or it could have been the reception guy. I don’t recall, but I was by this time in possession of a second ticket with C 21 on it. Ok 20 people in front of me, time to take a seat and check my phone for something to kill the time.
After watching several apparent fellow cuing people enter and leave door ‘C’, I began to suspect that the cuing system was broken. So how would I know when it was my turn? No one was saying anything, yet people were going in and out. How did they know when to do this. Had I already missed my turn? Oh also by this point I was beginning to realise I had somehow avoided the first very full looking waiting room. I have no idea why or how I had avoided it, I was just glad I wasn’t in it now.
I asked a passing member of staff if I was waiting outside the correct door, and asked if the cuing system had developed a fault. He indicated indeed the cue system was broken and spoke to others sat around door ‘C’ in a language other than English and they all held out there tickets allowing him to deduce there were still four people in front of me and who they were. I thanked him, took my seat and played with my phone to kill time while watching each of the four people in front of me take their turn.
My number came up and I knocked the door and entered door ‘C’. I was surprised to find someone else in there still being examined. There was a doctor seeing to him, another member of medical staff sat nearby and he was talking to a member of staff who had pushed into the room moments before me. The room was small and shall we say ‘looking very well used’. After the two medical staff who were not the doctor finished their conversation that was not in English so I have no idea what they were discussing, the one standing exited the room squeezing past me. I looked puzzled at the non doctor and stated ‘No 21?’ but nodding at the guy still being examined. He said yes and invited me to take a seat near him where he proceeded to take my blood pressure without saying another word. After the cuff had deflated the chap smiled and informed me ‘it’s normal’. Well that was some good news 😉
The examination of the guy already in the room when I entered continued. This was not in English so there was no invasion of privacy because I couldn’t understand anything that was being said. However I still felt uncomfortable that I was present during someone else’s examination. Once he was dismissed it was my turn.
I explained the foot problem, and the doctor suggested that I loose some weight, do some foot exercises that he demonstrated how to do and offered me a weeks worth of pain killers. I explained that weight loss was work in progress and that 26kg had already been lost, I declined the weeks worth of pain killers as this had already been going on for three months and asked if I could see a podiatrist if HMC had any. He didn’t think there were any and indicated that even if there were it would be six months plus before I would probably see one. He offered a blood sugar test as well, and I declined this saying I would pop along to a local private clinic near me and have the test done there. I was aware he was under pressure, and I did not want to take up any more of his valuable time. After thanking both gentlemen I exited and headed for the sunlight as quickly as I could.
I now wish I had paid my local private clinic to take a look at my foot, I would have saved a lot of time, reduced the risk of contracting some nasty airborne virus and avoided a mornings worth of feeling uncomfortable and out of place. I just wish the Emergency Department had explained a bit more about where they were sending me, and I wish they had suggested that I may prefer to see a private clinic near me instead of attending Wafedin.