Saturday, May 21, 2005

Medical Services: Central Massachusetts Versus Western Pennsylvania

I'm not sure where to start/where to go with this discussion, but I'm puzzled.

I live in Western Pennsylvania. We're all in reasonable health, but we all tend to have nuisance ailments like gastritis and allergies. We have HealthAmerica, and have never had any trouble getting treatment or tests for anything. For example, my doctor told me to have my sinuses X-rayed the next time I wasn't having an active sinus infection. I called last Wednesday, and got CAT scan appointment for next Monday. The ability to always get tests within a reasonable time has always been reassuring, partcularly since we have a high percentage of the elderly in our area.

My mother lives in Central Massachusetts. She's in her 70s, lives on her own, is in reasonable health, but has been having more age-realted health problems. Last fall, she had a major knee problem and it took her weeks to get all the tests she needed, and she didn't have surgery on it for something like four months after her injury. Currently, her doctor thinks she may have had a mini-stroke because her memory has gotten quite bad recently. But it's going to take her a month to get a CAT scan!! Now, I'd always thought medical care was reasonbly good in Central Mass (UMass Medical School is right there, Fallon is right there), so why does it take over a month to get tests for a potentially dangerous condition?

Is health care being rationed to the elderly? After her knee injury, my mother couldn't walk for a few days and wound up getting one of the last orthopedic beds in a rehab facility. Is health care merely incompetently managed in Central Massachusetts? What's up?

3 comments:

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Laurie Mann said...

I should add a PS to this: two years after writing this, I had surgery. I had many tests and many delays, but had to only spend 2 nights in the hospital. When I'd had the same surgery in 1978, I spent either 5 or 6 nights in the hospital. The main side effect I had to the 2nd surgery was a huge spike in my blood pressure, but I'd warned them that would probably happen. The extra tests I had were all irrelevant.

My mother had a medical emergency late in the spring and did get admitted for a couple of days. While it took about six weeks to finally figure out what was really wrong with her, it turned out to be minor but hard to diagnose, and she's much better now.