Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why Don't They Call?

A buzzer sounded, and the Airport International’s security office door opened. Two officers behind a counter heard me explain that I had cared for a guest. One of them had called earlier.

The International has over 1,200 rooms. In my experience, a hotel generates about one request for a doctor per month for every hundred rooms. My record is 208 calls in 1995 from the old Century Plaza at 1076 rooms. I received eleven calls from the International during 2011 and five so far in 2012.

When I asked the security officer why the hotel called so infrequently he gave the usual incorrect response (“no one’s been sick”). When I asked who they called besides me, he peered down at his desk where, under a sheet of glass lay business cards advertising taxis, ambulance services, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, et al. I saw my card and none from three rival hotel doctors.

They prefer central Los Angeles from Hollywood through Beverly Hills to the beach cities where the luxury hotels concentrate. Less often, they drive long distances, including the extra ten miles to the airport, but I doubt they’re responsible for my shortfall.

My eyes fell on a card advertising a national housecall service based in New York. Several exist; all boast that they can send a doctor at a moment’s notice. This is not easy, so all quickly learn about me. I made half a dozen visits for this agency but stopped because guests blamed me for the bill.

“Do you know how much these people charge?” I asked.  “Six hundred dollars!” They expressed polite dismay. They didn’t care.

That’s the problem. Luxury hotels always provide a doctor, but many mid-level managers give it a low priority, so employees make their own choices when a guest asks for help.

Now and then, mysteriously, the light dawns, and a hotel suddenly begins to call regularly. Decades may pass before this happens, but I’m doing fine. 

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