Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"I Can't Afford That!"

I hear this now and then when a guest learns my fee, more often as a hint (“I’ll talk to my husband and call you back…”).

My routine when hotels call is to listen to a patient’s symptoms, deliver an opinion and advice, and discuss options; only half my callers require a housecall. Once a guest agrees to a visit, I reveal the cost.

Hearing a reluctance to pay, I mention local walk-in clinics. Their basic charge is less than mine, although that difference disappears if the doctor orders tests and writes an expensive prescription.

I feel uncomfortable suggesting leaving the room if it’s a struggle – for example if someone is vomiting or dizzy. This guest had been dizzy all day. In these cases, I insist on coming, telling them they can pay whatever they feel is fair.

Guests always object, and she was no exception, but it works out. Some end up paying the usual, but I’ve taken as little as $5.00.

Since she had already protested the fee, my expectations were low. They dropped to zero when I approached the hotel and saw paramedics loading her into an ambulance.

The guest’s symptoms were not life-threatening, but paramedics lean over backwards to take patients to the hospital, having been burned in the past when they didn’t. 

I wondered if she had called them because of worries about my fee. She may not have realized that paramedics will send a bill.

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