I have sleep apnea. I was diagnosed 6 years ago. I use a CPAP. I’ve used it for 6 years.
Me and my CPAP are very happy together.
Until last night, when it suddenly died – as in blinking the message “Needs Service” and refusing to turn on – at all. On a Thursday night, which means I had one day to replace it with a working CPAP before the weekend when I wouldn’t expect to be able to get much of anything done.
No problem. My first CPAP started making a lot of noise. I took it to Kaiser and they handed me a different one.
Now, I’m not completely stupid. I went online first to see what Kaiser had to say. What Kaiser had to say was —- nothing. I could read about what a CPAP is – but I already know that. Ditto sleep apnea. What I couldn’t find was a number to the Pulmonary/Sleep Medicine Unit that I know exists at the San Jose Kaiser campus.
So in the morning, off I toddle my big fat old lady butt to San Jose Kaiser. I go to the front (check-in) desk and she tells me to see the people at Station 1. More toddling. I tell this lady, I have a dead CPAP machine. She asks how long I’ve had my machine. I say, years and years, and she hands me a slip of paper and tells me to call Apria (which is a medical equipment supplier for Kaiser).
Now, I’ve dealt with Apria before. They are okay. You call them, order your CPAP supplies, and they mail them to you.
So I say to the lady, so I guess it’s okay with Kaiser if I just die in my sleep? And she tells me to deal with Apria. They have a San Jose office, if they can’t fix the machine maybe I can get a new one from them.
I go home and I call Apria. They tell me the machine is no longer under warranty (no big surprise, as stated, I’ve had it for years and years); and Apria needs a new prescription before they can replace my CPAP. No, they don’t know who is supposed to issue this prescription.
Next, I e-mail my primary physician, asking her if she knows if she is supposed to do the prescription or if she can tell me who …?
Then I call Kaiser DME (Durable Medical Equipment) number and I actually get someone helpful! Holy crap! That was a pleasant surprise. She told me I needed to contact the Sleep Medicine unit (you know, where I was this morning) and make an appointment. And she even gave me the phone number. Whoo-hoo.
I call the Sleep Medicine unit. I am told I have not been seen by them for 6 years (like it was my fault). Well, nobody asked to see me and me and my CPAP were doing just fine up until last night. The first appointment they have is July 28 (a week from today). Well, better than never, I guess.
Then my primary calls and she tells me she has called Sleep Medicine and they don’t have anything in appointments for the whole month of August. I explain, I have an appointment for July 28, but I’m not happy because:
I have a diagnosed chronic condition that is treated with medical equipment. I am conscientious about using this equipment. The equipment, through no fault of mine, has ceased to work. Kaiser now wants me to go for a week with no treatment. I don’t think that is acceptable.
My doctor agreed, and said she would call in the afternoon and tell them to call me with the first cancellation.
Meanwhile, I go online and file a complaint with Kaiser. I explain what has happened and I explain that Kaiser should have some kind of procedure, protocol, policy in place for this situation.
Then things start to happen.
Kaiser calls, they have a cancellation can I get there in ½ an hour. I think they were a little surprised when I said yes. Called work, explained, drove (only mostly like a maniac) to Kaiser, and got there 10 minutes before the appointment! Saw a supervisor, who took the little SIM-kind-of card from my old machine and ran it through their computers; went and got me a brand new CPAP. Showed me how this one works, and how to register online so Kaiser can follow my progress. I gave them my poor dead (but much loved) CPAP.
Now was that so fucking hard?
And then I got a call from a Kaiser nurse asking if my complaint had been resolved. I explained, yes, for me personally the problem was resolved, after a lot of people were put to a lot of trouble, and I feel the only reason it was resolved is because:
I bitched and I am a bitch.