Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Ramping Care

When my doctor told me that his office was moving, for a moment, I panicked. He's a really good doctor and he's taken really good care of Joe and I. "Will the new office building be accessible?" I asked, on hearing the news. My doctor smiled and said, "When I have a patient who has a disability blog, I guess it had better be." I laughed, relieved. Finding a doctor is hard enough, finding one you trust is even harder. We immediately left his office and went over to see where the new office would be. There was one step up and into the building. I emailed him right away. ARRRGGGHHH. He emailed back right away saying basically, "We haven't moved yet."

So today I went to the new offices for the first time. I was able to ride down in my power wheelchair as the office is closer to where I live. On getting there I saw that the building had been ramped. It's one of those old office buildings that must have towered in it's day but is now a lovely, quaint, five or six story building. I rode up the ramp, pushed the button for the door to open and rode in. That building has been there for a very long time and I wondered if I was one of the first people with disabilities to ever make its acquaintance.

The elevator took us up to the clinic and in we went. It was amazingly accessible. We checked out the loo and it's perfect. I didn't know about getting into my doctor's office because my power chair is big and I wasn't sure about the turn. But when I called to ask the configuration of the office the receptionist, a lovely woman herself, told me that if there was a problem, they had a examination room created that had extra wide doors and if I couldn't get into the regular office, there would still be a place to receive care.

I rode into his office with no problem at all. He told me that they had tried to ensure that all entrances were accessible. The whole layout was welcoming and, oddly for a medical establishment, not at all forbidding. The doctor asked me questions, genuinely interested in my take on the accessibility of the place. How as the ramp out front? How was getting in? He even asked to let him know if there were any problems with getting out - was the ramp OK for descending? There were no problems. After leaving Joe and I were relieved. At our age, having health care from a trusted health care provider is such an important thing. I don't have to see the doctor often, but I need to know that when I need to, I can.

I am writing this because I learned something from my doctor and the clinic where he works. Accessibility can happen if it is willed to do so. They took a space that once I could never have gotten into and made it such that I could. They willed this and they did this. Of course I know that this wasn't done for ME and my doctor had only been joking about me being a disability blogger. I know that. I also know that this clinic, it's doctors and it's employees have taken their oath seriously.

First do no harm.

There is often no recognition of the harm that comes to one, left outside, looking in.


Anonymous said...

Your last statement really rung true to me. So often we focus on what "is done" to us. Often it is the things not done that hurt more.

Anonymous said...

That's wonderful, it shouldn't be but sadly it is because it's rare, I'm sure a doctor and office like that is hard to find, I look at the doctors I know and there is a constant lack of wheelchair accessibility, sometimes I find a ramp and I'm sure the person using the wheelchair must have learned to defy gravity to use it because it's too inclined, I don't know what the person that build the ramp was thinking and I saw one with a step in the middle, very weird.
One thing frustrates me about accessibility in general, I can't find an accessible hospital or doctor were I live or anywhere and when I ask for it they say there have ramps but I need sensory accessibility and not physical wheelchair accessibility, they refuse, I can't go anywhere when I'm sick, people refuse to remove televisions and music, even when there are ramps and I don't get it.
Sorry about commenting with my frustrations but I just suffered a lot because I needed to have an exam and the hospital was physically painful and no one wanted to put the televisions on mute, there are two waiting rooms and they didn't care and the doctor that told me to have an exam doesn't care and his office is terrible too. People don't get that wheelchair accessibility is needed and amazing but it's not the only way to be accessible and not the only important accessibility.

I wonder if when other disabled people ask if the building is going to be accessible they hear will the building be wheelchair accessible or if they think on the general context?

Anonymous said...

My Dr. moved a couple years ago and I asked her the same question. She told me that the new offices only had a couple of steps. I told her that this would make it impossible for me to see her. She just shrugged and that was that. Suddenly I didn't have a doctor. It didn't seem to matter to her at all. You got lucky.

Anonymous said...

It is a sad but true statement - most doctors do not want to see sick patients. Talk about an oxymoron.

joanne said...

I really appreciate your last comment. That should be saved as a quote! May I use it referencing you??

Dave Hingsburger said...

Joanne, you cetainly may ... thanks!