Pig Fever, Yaffe Ruden, and The Velvet Rope

Recently I paid a visit to the upper east side health factory known as Yaffe, Ruden, & Associates. They came recommended by a number of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. In retrospect, perhaps too many.

You see, when I go to the doctor I’m not impressed by the number of patients they see. I’m impressed with the feeling of personal attention and care. Call me old fashioned. And yet, on the other hand, there is an aspect of Yaffe Ruden’s business that is altogether too old fashioned. By this I mean that most businesses are waking up to the value of letting their clients know what their process is, what’s in their secret sauce, if you will. Going to Yaffe Ruden this past Friday morning - with 101.8 degree fever - felt more like going to a night club with a velvet rope and hoping to be admitted.

I called the doctor’s office at around 9am. I told them my symptoms, including the high fever, and asked if they even wanted me to come in. Wasn’t it clear that this was Flu and that I should just pick up some Tamiflu and keep my highly contagious self out of their office. “Nah, we have to make sure it’s not pneumonia,” was the answer. I think I literally heard a cash register ring in the background. “12:30 is the earliest time we have, is that ok?”

So I show up at 12:25. Wishful thinking. What happens over the next two hours is amazing to me. First off, the subway ride to the office was hell. I could barely keep my eyes open. My head is throbbing and I have this deep, bottomless cough that rattles my spine. My knuckles hurt. My molars hurt. it occurs to me that i shouldn’t be in a subway. I tuck my hands into my pockets and keep my mouth shut.

The waiting room at Yaffe Ruden is PACKED. The blinky sign on the wall says that PAS (physicians assistants) are running one hour late. Five minutes pass. I think I’m not going to make it.

After waiting for about an hour two people who showed up well after me are admitted. At one point a new entrant asks the desk lady how long the wait is and she says, “well, we’re seeing 1:15s right now and you’re a 1:30 so probably half an hour.” Only I’m a 12:30. It doesn’t make sense.

Soon after, a young woman comes in with her mother. They are apparently related to a doctor there so she cuts the line. A woman with a broken foot comes in and demands to see someone soon. She engages the desk lady in a lengthy debate which seems to go nowhere. And then a real fucktard shows up - I simply don’t know how else to describe this obnoxious bitch. No wait, that works. This woman walks up to desk lady and announces that she knows exactly what prescription she needs and demands to see someone who can write the script for her right now. She refuses to wait.

Ok, I get it. I completely get it. I mean, I’ve been there for about an hour an fifteen minutes at this point. Any other doctor would’ve just written the script for me five hours ago. I would be on the mend! Instead I’m in pain, waiting endlessly without rhyme or reason, and hungry in that way where you know you need food but are also nauseous…

But so here’s the problem: the desk lady didn’t know how to deal with the obnoxious bitch. She also didn’t know how to deal with the broken foot lady. This is because the desk lady had no guidelines. There are no rules at Yaffe Ruden. None that they follow, anyway.

If Yaffe Ruden had a simple rule, like, “We see patients in the order they are admitted” (and this is just my suggestion, maybe there’s another that makes more sense) then when some loudmouth person comes in, they could just point to the rule and ask the person to take a seat. The problem is that the obnoxious bitch was right. She knows, as I do now, that there is no system at Yaffe Ruden. You can be seen sooner by complaining loudly or knowing the right person. Unfortunately for me, I was stuck to my seat in a shallow form of agony while I watched person after person get admitted ahead of me who seemed like they just showed up.

I took home a little lesson about customer service. Transparency, information, and honesty can empower your customer to make better decisions and respect you more.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for a new doctor.