Wednesday, November 13, 2019

An Hour Gone By

I should probably take my blood pressure and go hide in a dark quiet space.

Upon the release of the very sick man from the hospital, the nurse went over everything very carefully. There was an issue of discontinuing some of his current meds and starting some new ones. I made it a point to ask about the new prescriptions being called in to Humana mail-order pharmacy and I was assured it had been taken care of. Twice I asked. Then I made sure that the new drugs would also be called in to the local pharmacy for a one month supply to tide us over until Humana shipped the drugs.

Made sense. I enunciate and speak clearly and I don't think I come across as the hysterical spouse with the very sick man. I have been managing his drugs, well, forever. He has not a clue about what he swallows when I hand it to him or he tips the pill taker in his hand.

But, today, as I am about to fill the pill taker, I decide to call Humana and make sure it has all been taken care of. An hour of my life I will NEVER get back. Short story, it was NOT called in. I hate incompetence. Taking care of prescriptions is not a good field to work in if you do not plan to follow through with what you tell the patient. I can assure you that he would have just run out of the new prescriptions, assuming that it had all been dealt with. Him and how many other people who leave the hospital and don't think to question and then investigate.

So, already annoyed that things have not been taken care of, I am greeted with a perky voice with an accent I cannot place. Just know that English is not her first language. She is nice and courteous, but I would take gruff and knowledgeable over that any day. Be rude, I don't care, as long as you can do your job and make things happen. 

I tell her that I need to have 4 of his current prescriptions on file discontinued. After answering a series of identifying questions that I had already answered and giving the phone to the very sick man to give his permission for me to handle his medications (something they already have on file … or should), I proceed with the name of the first drug. I am ready to give her the name of the second one when she begins telling me the last shipping date of the first drug and what the estimated cost is and when I can expect it! NOOOOO, I scream in my head while I bang it against the cabinet door.

Deep breath and I start all over again, saying that he will NOT be taking this drug in the future, as it has been replaced with a different drug. They have my credit card on file and I do not want to pay for something we can't use. You cannot return a prescription once it leaves the facility.

So, we come to an understanding and I start again with the second drug and suddenly I was transported to Groundhog Day and it happened all over again. I see my mistake now that I am living it for the second time. I used the term "discontinue" and she was using the term "deactivate". Means the same thing, but, if she has been trained with only one term to apply to this action, then this is the term she knows and will not know what to do with other terms that mean the same thing. Part of the insanity that people get so frustrated with when dealing with companies who outsource their customer service.

Finally, having made clear what I need done, we go on to the new prescriptions. I give her the names, dosage, and instructions on the three new drugs. I give her the doctor's name, address and phone number. Oh no! I do not have the fax number!! She puts me on hold while she gets it. I feel my pulse pounding in my temples. I wonder what would happen if I had a stroke while on hold. The very sick man would find me, his caregiver, crumpled in the kitchen floor still attached to Humana Pharmacy. 

I am on hold for awhile, so my mind has time to wander. There is no easy access to get an ambulance stretcher into our living quarters and I see myself being dragged by my feet through the door into the store and around the registration desk to the front door where they will heave me onto a stretcher and get my vital signs, if I have any left. I decide right then that my plan to rearrange things will definitely be activated. Activated, a word the lady on the phone would understand.

She pops back into my ear with the good news that she has gotten the fax number and verified it! She wants to share the number with me. Why would I need it, I stupidly wonder aloud. So I will have it for my records. Learned my lesson with that first question and do not voice my thoughts any more and just take the number. Hoping that the call will end soon, as I have had 3 calls that I ignored while on the mission of taking care of the very sick man's drugs.

Then I sabotage my own life by asking about the other new drug that I have not included in her list. Brilinta. New drugs are expensive, but Astra Zenica may be able to help. I just wanted a price quote with my current insurance. Over $400. I will be contacting Astra Zenica for help. I tell her to leave it off her list of drugs and that I will be getting it elsewhere. This sends her into a litany of  telling me that if a drug is prescribed, then the patient needs it. I breathe deeply and just let her go on. The phone call seems to be near the end!

Hope runs deep. But, now I am put on hold after being told that the only one who can deactivate the drugs is the pharmacy technician and I have to give the order to him. She comes back on the line after about three minutes and proceeds to introduce me to the pharmacy tech, who seems as thrilled as I am about meeting each other via the customer rep.

He deactivates the four drugs and I am excited to end the call and see who has been calling me. I am on my cell phone and not the store phone. Hoping it is not one of my kids with something wrong. I check the recent calls. Six, count them, six from the same number. It is Humana asking me to take a short survey about the quality of their customer service. I gave them what they asked for. I doubt it will do any good, but I was able to voice my opinion at the end of the multiple choice ratings.


Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

On how I feel your frustration, you would feel like you are hitting your head against a wall

Joanne Noragon said...

And I do hope they arrive on time, as ordered!

Kathy G said...

And the sad thing is that you'll have to keep on top of the whole project to make sure you really do get what you're supposed when you're supposed to get it.

River said...

$400??? Yikes. Hope there is a cheaper option, perhaps a generic version.
when did "discontinue" get discontinued? New generations and their fancy new terms.
My local pharmacy is five minutes walk away and whenever I get a new prescription for something I haven't taken before, the pharmacist brings out a printed version of everything I take and uses a red pen to cross off anything discontinued.
I don't think I could handle doing it by phone as you have to.
I do hope everything is worked out now and the medications arrive as scheduled.

Val said...

HeWho is so lucky to have you! I know you will stay on top of this drug business and make sure he has what he needs WHEN he needs it!

This situation makes me almost glad I live a mile up a gravel road, with a mailbox out on the county road that people steal from with impunity. For that reason, I am not able to use mail order prescriptions.

Labbie1 said...

Astra zenica won't help. Count on that. Ask the docs if he can have Plavix instead. The docs just write out scripts for the new stuff that the drug reps are Hawking and don't think about the cost. Stay on top of them girl! It's so frustrating. Make them give you theeds that are covered on less expensive tiers and ask for samples. Lots of samples! You know mine is on all those heart meds. Go through it all the time! Irritates the living you know what out of me. Call anytime to vent. <3

Linda O'Connell said...

I know of what you speak. They are forever calling to say Prescription ready. Then get there and they only have three pills. All the time.

dkzody said...

Oh, my, I am so sorry for this craziness. And, it's the reason I keep telling anyone who will listen that I refuse to have mail order drugs. We, for the moment, have a local independent pharmacist who takes such good care of us. I'm praying they outlive us.

Amanda said...

Spend some time on the 'net. There are foundations that give grants to pay for outrageously priced prescriptions. The Pan Foundation saved our bacon. I had a heart medication that would have taken half our monthly income. It's gone generic now and we can afford it, but without that grant, I'd of just had to do without.