Tuesday, June 27, 2017

More Free Services

A guest from the Avalon phoned; her husband had been vomiting. Learning the fee, she decided to transmit my advice (stop drinking fluids; suck on ice) and wait a few hours. When I checked back later, he was feeling better.

An elderly man from the Beverly Hills Plaza lost his luggage and needed a supply of half a dozen medications. Rather than endure the lengthy process of learning the name, dose, and instructions of everything, I told him to sort things out with a pharmacist who would phone, and I would approve it.

A man at Le Petite Hermitage wanted a chiropractor. I could have told him to find one on the internet, but it’s better P.R. if I do it. I found one.

I was pleased at these contacts because the Avalon and Beverly Hills Plaza and Le Petite Hermitage never phone. They belong to my competitors who are not so easy to reach and unwilling to provide free services over the phone.

Doing stuff over the phone is easy, so I don’t object, and hotels that call now and then sometimes decide to call regularly.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

“Our flight leaves at nine. My son was vomiting all afternoon but stopped a few hours ago. Is it OK to go?”

If I came to the hotel and found nothing wrong, I couldn’t promise that the child wouldn’t resume vomiting. I’d be more confident after a day, but the family didn’t want to hear that.

“There’s six of us going to Australia. We can’t miss the flight.”

Long ago you went to the local airline office and exchanged your ticket. Today airline offices are a distant memory, and ticket exchange with its expensive penalties strikes fear into the heart of any traveler.

Some get on the plane and hope for the best. Others ask the airline for advice. No carrier wants a sick person on board, and every customer service agent knows what to say. 

“They want a doctor’s note,” explained the same caller later. “Can you come?”

Most “doctor’s note” visits are a snap because the guest has already recovered, so I’m simply handing over a piece of paper. This is never true while the illness hasn’t run its course. Guests yearn for me to clear them, but I almost never do. Failing that, they hope my note will persuade the airline to reschedule everyone gratis. This sometimes works, but the era when my note served as a get-out-of-jail-free card is long past.

In this case, they were lucky. The airline insisted that four proceed on to Australia, reticketed the mother and child for the next flight in four days with no penalty but also no reimbursement for the extra days in the hotel.

Monday, June 19, 2017

When Guests Drop Hints -Part 2

        Guest:  “I try not to.”
        This means “Yes” in answer to questions like:  “Do you cheat on your diet, stick Q-tips in your ears, consume too much food, alcohol, tranquilizers, salt,  or laxatives?.”

        Guest:  “I try.”
        This means “No” when I ask if someone has obeyed instructions that are almost impossible to obey (take a pill every four hours, stick to an exercise program, ignore a crying baby)...

        Guest:  “Everyone tells me what a great doctor you are….”
        My heart sinks when I hear this because it precedes a request that I’m not likely to fulfill.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

When Guests Drop Hints - Part 1

Here are some phrases that I have to interpret.

Guest:  “You’re the doctor.”

This means “You’re wrong.”  Other hints that I’m off base include:
“I wonder if I need something stronger…”
“My regular doctor always gives me...”
“My husband had the same thing, and the doctor said it was...”

Guest:  “If I don’t get something it turns into (...bronchitis, strep, walking pneumonia, a sinus infection...).”

This guest is saying:  “I want an antibiotic.”
Patients often work hard to convince me that their cough, congestion, or sore throat has a special feature that requires an antibiotic.  They tell me that -
“I have an important meeting, and I can’t afford to be sick.”
“I have a tendency to strep.”
“It’s not a cold.  It’s bronchitis!”
“If I don’t catch it quick, it goes to my chest.”
Plus the old favorite:  “My regular doctor always gives me...”

Guest:  “Are you sure I need this?”

This means the guest won’t fill my prescription.
Similar hints include:
“I don’t take medicine unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
“My mother is allergic to this.”
“I have a sensitive stomach.”

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Why We Get Old and Why We Die

People believe that bodies wear out as they age, but that's wrong except for teeth and joints. These are also two areas where medical science is perfecting good replacements, so it’s possible to get the wrong impression.

You can’t wear out your eyes by excessive reading any more than you can wear out your nose by excessive smelling. You can speed up matters through bad habits such as allowing the sun to shine on your skin, but aging is built into your genes.    

Evolution designed organisms to pass their genes on to future generations as efficiently as possible. After peak reproductive years – the 30s in humans -- evolution loses interest, and the performance of your incredibly complex metabolism declines. Efficient processes become less efficient. Things break. You don’t wear out; disease eventually kills you.

If you want encouraging news, it’s possible in theory to physically alter genes so that metabolism doesn’t peak at 30 but at 100 or 200 or never.

In fact, over the past decade biologists have developed ingenious techniques to manipulate DNA. I reviewed a good book on this called A Crack in Creation. Look it up on Amazon.

Nothing about vast life extension violates natural laws, so it’s probably inevitable, but you and I were born too soon.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

When Stupidity Takes Over

In 2002 I had the satisfying experience of reading a front page story about my leading rival hotel doctor.  The California Medical Board had lifted his license, and he was in serious trouble for providing narcotics to more than one celebrity. You can google it.

Most drug abusers must take to the streets and run risks, but a few are rich enough to pay a doctor to make housecall to give a single shot of whatever they prefer.  A doctor for luxury hotels gets such request regularly (“My back went out, and I have a meeting I can’t miss...”).  If a doctor is quick with the needle, the word gets out.  Calls pour in.  Money pours in.  Most likely the doctor realizes he can charge a good deal more for this service and related services. Stupidity takes over.

Eventually, prescriptions labeled with this doctor’s name are sitting in medicine cabinets, purses, and glove compartments throughout the city. Their owners are fairly careless. This doctor is doomed.