One of the worst things about living anywhere is needing urgent medical care; one of the best things about Living in Place is receiving that care at Grace Cottage Hospital.
Last Saturday, I twisted my ankle at mile four of a twelve-mile hike and refused to allow a little pain interfere with a walk in the woods with my dog.
Stupid or stubborn?
I hiked out the long way, drove home, and iced my now swollen ankle and my scotch.
On Monday, I called Grace Cottage Family Health, the medical clinic connected to the hospital. Bernice answered the phone. Bernice and I go way back. She famously lifted me and the gurney I was strapped to into the ambulance in late February of 1988, when I was transferred from Grace Cottage to a larger hospital with specialty care after fourteen hours of active labor. One of the things I like about Grace Cottage is that more often than not, I know the person lifting the gurney – or answering the phone.
This is not just because I’m married to a doctor who works there, though that doesn’t hurt. The West River Valley is a small community, and Grace Cottage Hospital and Grace Cottage Family Health are where we receive health care from our neighbors who work there. And many – like Bernice and my husband – have worked there many, many years.
The new doctors and nurses who’ve arrived more recently are swiftly embraced into the fold. It’s this sense of community – and this sense of knowing the practitioners and support staff – that makes good health care great.
The last thing I want to do when I don’t feel well is tell a stranger my woes. At Grace Cottage, I don’t have to, because nine times out of ten, the person I’m talking to is a friend, neighbor, or acquaintance. This makes it easier to reveal the gruesome details of something awry with my innards or to confess why I decided to keep walking on what turned out to be a broken bone.
Natalie, my PA didn’t think so.
Stubborn, she said.
And now she knows I have a high threshold for pain, so next time I complain about something, she’ll know I’m not kidding around.
After John took the x-ray in the hospital, he guided me to the clinic by elevator, which I’d never been in before.
Afterward, Tim (my doctor husband) took me to lunch, where any number of friends, neighbors and hospital employees all wanted to know, What happened? I told the story again and again.
Maybe I should have turned back?
It was a beautiful day. I made it to Stratton Pond, and I avoided backtracking to the summit, where my friends Jeanne and Hugh (Stratton Mountain caretakers) would have summoned the mountain EMTs.
Despite my marriage to a physician, I’m somewhat allergic to seeking medical care. I suffer from White Coat syndrome, and become hypertensive when treated in an anonymous medical setting, regardless how grateful I am for the care. At my local medical clinic, I’m not anonymous, nor are my caregivers, HIPPA be damned.
I’m sure there are some who would loathe this kind of attention and would prefer anonymous care. Lucky for them, that’s becoming the norm.
But I’m old school about many things, including a belief that a review of biological systems needs to be done in relation to where and how and with whom I live. I am more complicated than a series of test results.
So, when I’m injured or ill, I like being treated by people who know me when I’m whole and well. I like seeing Ewa (my physician) in yoga class, meeting Holly or Paul (both nurses) at the grocery store, or bumping into Roger (the CEO) at the local eatery. What I like receiving is local health care, which is yet another benefit of Living in Place.