Home > Community, General, Medical, Recommendations > Shame on you, Martin Luther King Jr. Health Care Center and BronxCare Dental

Shame on you, Martin Luther King Jr. Health Care Center and BronxCare Dental

If you saw me outside today with a sour look on my face, kicking the curb when the stroller wouldn’t go up, muttering to myself about people taking up too much space on the sidewalk, or randomly shaking my head in disgust don’t blame the extreme temperatures. Blame the Martin Luther King Jr. Health Center, especially the one on Ogden Street in the Bronx.

It has taken me an hour to calm down long enough to write this post without the use of expletives, but it took almost as long to dial not 1, not 2, but 5 different phone numbers for a grand total of 16 calls and nearly 4 hours of being on hold or being told to call someone else.

Call 1: 718-466-3222, MLK Health Center on Ogden in the Bronx

A man picked up as the phone rang, a good sign, I thought. I explained that we had an appointment for dental sedation for my special needs son that we needed to reschedule because we would be out of town on the original day. He told me he was finishing up registering a patient and could I hold for a minute. “Of course,” I said. I put my cell on speaker phone and went about my business. Twenty-two minutes later I hung up, frustrated, and redialed.

Call 2: 718-466-3222, Same place, new person

A woman picked up the phone – she sounded like I had woken her up. No matter, I thought, at least it isn’t a recording. I explained that I had been left on hold for a long time and that I was trying to reschedule an appointment for my special needs son. I further explained that I had two small children in addition, and that staying on hold for long periods of time was very difficult, so if she could just give me any new date to come in we would take it. She asked me for the patient’s name. I spelled it for her. “Thank you,” I said. “We are new patients and he needs to be evaluated for sedation because he is so fearful of the dentist.” No response. “I appreciate you doing this.” It sounded like she was singing softly in my ear, wait, I was on hold again!!! It was a sneak attack. I looked at the phone – eight more minutes, gone. I gave it 5 more and hung up, irate.

Call 3: 718-466-3222, Same place, both people

I called back. The woman answered on the second ring. “I think I was put on hold or hung up on,” I started. “I really need to speak with someone about my son’s appointment. His name is -” She put me on hold. HOLD!!!! Almost immediately though, the original guy picked up. “I have a lot of patients here,” he said. “I appreciate that,” I said. “I have a lot of children here, and I really cannot afford to spend all day on hold – it has been 45 minutes already.” “Okay,” the man said. “What is your child’s name?” I gave it to him as he typed away at his keyboard, though for all I know he was drumming his fingers on the desk or clicking his teeth together. “Your son doesn’t have an appointment here,” he said. What?! “He was scheduled at 171st and Grand Concourse. I’ll give you their number, you’ll have to call them to reschedule.” “How can this be?” I asked. “I booked this appointment months ago at this number.” “That can’t be,” he said. “We don’t take appointments for July yet.” He gave me the number and I hung up, fuming.

Call 4: 718-838-1024, MLK Health Center 171st and Grand Concourse?

I called, incredibly frustrated but certain that I had finally been directed to a person who could help me. It seemed even more official because I had to press 1 or 2 a few times to get to the right department. A young girl answered and when I explained the reason for my call, she said, “Oh, you want Pediatrics at Make-You-Feel-Crazy Street. I can give you their number.” No, it wasn’t Make-You-Feel-Crazy Street, but honestly, I didn’t even care. I just wanted to speak with someone, anyone, who could reschedule the appointment. “This has been going on for an hour,” I said tearfully. “Can you please just connect me? I have a special needs child and 2 small children going crazy over here and I just need 2 minutes of time.” She sounded apologetic. “No, but I’m sorry for your trouble.” I hung up, armed with a new number and a new level of frustration.

Calls 5-7: 718-901-4604, who knows, who cares?

The number you have reached is no longer in service….

Call 8: 718-838-1024, MLK Health Center at 171st and Grand Concourse

How could you give me the wrong number? Why are you doing this to me? Is this your idea of a cruel joke? Can’t you tell that I’m on the edge already?

All questions I wanted to shout, but instead I said, “The number is disconnected. Do you have another one?” I was put on hold while the girl confirmed that yes, I did dial correctly and yes, the number was dead. She was very apologetic. I hung up with a new number.

Call 9-16 (so far): 718-838-8402, MLK Center for cruel jokes on overwhelmed mothers of special needs children,  no location specified

Dial this one, I dare you. You will not speak to a living soul in dental. You can get a real live operator by furiously pressing 0 over and over again but she will direct your call to dental, where you can press 1 for English, press 1 to schedule or reschedule an appointment, and then one of three things happens: it rings forever, you get an automated voice message that hangs up on completion (unless you know your party’s extension), or my favorite, you get put on hold for eternity, where all of the people I previously talked to are probably sitting around just laughing (or if you’re that first lady, back to your nap).

Damn you, MLK Health Center, damn you. (I hope nobody is counting damn as an expletive) You have ruined my day. It’s not an exaggeration. I spent from 9-11 and from 3-4:15 on the phone trying to do a very, very simple thing. I wasted cell phone minutes. I wasted time that could have been spent with my kids. I wasted any time I was going to have with my kids occupied so I could have a small break from them today. I was probably less patient with my kids and everyone else today because I was frustrated with the “receptionists” at the MLK Health Center.

And I get to start all over again tomorrow – James’s teeth don’t care if I’m frustrated, and neither does our health insurance (your on my list too, Cigna). Don’t say you haven’t been warned about this place!

Update:

It is Friday morning. I have called 718-901-8402 4 times nows since 8:30. The first time I was informed that they did not open until 9:00, so I called back at 9:01. I was put on hold the first two calls, and after 10 minutes disconnected both times. The third time the sympathetic operator gave me a sixth number, 718-901-8136. I am currently on HOLD, and have been for eight minutes. So far, I have wasted another hour and ten minutes of my life. The hold music playing on my speaker phone is a subconscious stress as I try to pleasantly make the kids breakfast, get them dressed and read them books, all while keeping one ear out for a human being to pick up the phone and perform a 90 second task for me.

I think my next task will be to double check with Cigna that this is really my only option. If this is how hard it is to make an appointment, I can’t imagine what the waiting room will be like.

Advertisements
  1. Pocoyomom
    June 9, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    My heart goes out to you — the hours we waste on hold, or waiting for someone to call us back. I dread making doctor’s appointments for this very reason. It’s time we will never get back. Then there’s the time in the waiting room … Bless you.

    • June 10, 2011 at 8:32 am

      Omg I know, the waiting rooms are a whole other animal because you can’t keep the kids busy with their toys and there are usually no bathrooms nearby.

      Starting again early this morning, but already nobody is answering at the last number – probably all sleeping in. If Cigna paid for another provider in Manhattan or if James didn’t need this appt so badly, I would just give up.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s