Malignant: Customer Service


Y’know, customer service counts even in the medical rackets. Case in point: This AM, I was in good time for my first appointment with Dr. Haddad, the surgeon who’ll be installing the drug port in my upper chest. I was given a card with his address on it Friday at the office of Dr. Allerton, who referred me to him. It read 1000 West 1st St.

It’s not a terribly easy place to find. Suffice it to say I drove a circle around the greater Bloomington Hospital campus, accidentally pulled into 1000 West 2nd st. (which turned out to be a women’s health center), and then eventually found 1000 W. 1st.

Fair enough. Except I couldn’t see Dr. Haddad’s name displayed anywhere around the place. Hmm. I told the receptionist I was there for my appt. w/ the doc in Q. She looked at me as if I’d asked for a falafel sandwich and a coke (hmm again — that just might be the ticket for lunch at the Trojan Horse).

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 3.14.01 PM

I showed her the card and she said his office definitely wasn’t there. She pulled out a doctors directory. It became clear, though, she couldn’t find his name. Then, as if a lightbulb had flashed on over her head, she said, “You know where he is?” and then she proceeded to describe Dr. Allerton’s office building which is directly across 2nd st. from Bloomington Hospital.

“Huh,” I said, “they could have told me he was right there.”

“I’m sorry,” she said — and she meant it.

Now that’s customer service. It wasn’t her fault but she took ownership of the mixup and her action served to make me feel better. This, even though before I left, she told me it had just occurred to her Dr. Haddad had moved out of her office just a month ago. Which, BTW, I found less than credible.

Okay, so it was back out in the single-digit deep freeze. The inside of the car already had turned frosty despite the fact that I’d finally gotten it somewhat toasty by the time I’d pulled into the lot.

Now I was behind Bloomington Hospital. I could have gone left or right — east or west — to get around it to the north side of 2nd St. For a hot minute, I was torn. I actually sat in the car at the exit of the lot trying to decide which way to go. I suppose my brain has been overloaded with thoughts of pain and mortality, high-tech details, and countless appointment times and places. I shook my coconut and decided to go right, west.

I swung around to Allerton’s office building and could see no sign for Dr. Haddad. Somehow, I knew the receptionist was wrong.

So I headed back toward 1st St. I passed the 1000 West address again and, a half block down, I caught sight of sign for a Dr. Fadi Haddad, Surgery. Hmm, a third time. I stopped the car just beyond the driveway and started to back up after checking to make sure no cars were behind me. At that very moment, a cop came up over the hill, driving in the opposite direction. He slowed down and locked eyes with me. I grinned sheepishly and pointed toward the doc’s office. He narrowed his eyes and drove on.

So, I entered Dr. Haddad’s office. As I signed in, I told the receptionist that I’d already been to two places and maybe the good doc ought have his card changed. She said, fairly defensively in my estimation, that his card definitely, absolutely does not say his office is at 1000 w. 1st St.

At which point I showed her the card. She looked at it skeptically and responded — again, defensively — “That’s not his card.”

It seemed she wanted to add some juicy addendum but I waved dismissively and told her, “I don’t care.”

The look on her face indicated that I had now cemented myself as her least favorite patient of the day and just might be the main topic of conversation at dinner tonight.

Keep in mind all she had to do was take ownership of the mixup. “Oh, I’m sorry, that not our card,” or “I’m sorry you had a tough time finding us,” or “I’m sorry…” for anything. Simple. I’m the customer. I had a problem. Her job is to chill me.

She was more interested, though, in proving me wrong.

BTW: I waited until 10:55 to be called in for my 9:45 appt. But that’s a customer service topic for another day.

The Upshot

As I was leaving Haddad’s office, I threw a couple of funny lines at the receptionist. She was happy to laugh at them. We’re good old pals now.

As for the medical man himself, Haddad showed me the type of port he’ll position just below my right collarbone. It’s a half-dollar-sized disc, about seven millimeters thick, with a tiny reservoir and a self-sealing lens-like cover. A wee bit of a nozzle to which a thin hose is attached projects from the reservoir. That hose will be inserted into a big, finger-width vein in my shoulder so that drugs and solutions can be injected into me, through the self-sealing lens. The idea is to get the stuff mixed up really well with the fast-flowing stream in that big blood vessel.

Here’s a typical port (the nozzle for the hose into my vein is on the lower right):

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 3.26.54 PM

This is what the fully-installed set-up looks like with skin involved:


Dr. Haddad says he does three to five of these procedures a week. This both reassures and saddens me. Imagine that many people having to endure this stuff. Damn. Who knew?

Anyway, Haddad’s office is going to coordinate his procedure with a gastroenterology surgeon so I’ll get my port and an abdominal feeding tube done at the same time. That set-up’ll look like this:


The feeding tube will come in handy when my charred throat precludes me from eating whole food. Fun times ahead, no?

Truth be told, I’m sort of looking forward to showing off my port and feeding tube after they’re installed. Hey, right now I’ll take my pleasures where I can get them.

3 thoughts on “Malignant: Customer Service

  1. Elizabeth Sweeney says:


  2. Kate says:

    You roll the dice and get single-digit temperatures, two receptionists and a cop. Win one, lose one, recover one, and get one free pass. Advance three spaces.

  3. Chris P. says:

    Dr. Haddad is an excellent doctor & surgeon. Very compassionate. Yup….his office is hard to spot….better signage would help. Can’t speak for the current front office staff, since I’ve not had to use his services for several years. (Eight years past breast cancer–yea!) His nurse was great & very professional.

    You continue to be in my thoughts as you begin this adventure. If you need any assistance shuffling through the upcoming bills/insurance statements, let me know. Get a copy of every report. Also, keep a calendar of all of your medical visits & tests. Keep a log of every call you might wind up making to an insurance company.

    I live in the world of medical records. If need be, I’m at your service. 🙂

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: