St. John’s Mercy

Since 1963, St. John’s Mercy Hospital has been at the same location and known by the same name. Just last week, they announced that “Mercy” is the “new” name. I ask you, after 48 years do they really think everyone is just going to make the switch? But that certainly isn’t the most aggravating part. After all, instead of saying, “So-and-so is over at St. John’s”, I’m sure that “So-and-so is over at Mercy” will be totally understandable. Yeah. Maybe in another 10 years or so.

I seem to spend a lot of time over at St. John’s. Sorry, MERCY. Whatever. Our doctors are there, we’ve been at the Breast Center, the Cancer Center, the lab, the ER, etc., etc.

A big issue is parking. They used to have valet parking, free for anyone; now it’s only free if you have a disabled tag, $3 for everyone else. Naturally, this has cut down on able drivers using the service. Yet, they still block off a substantial parking area for “valet only.” Very aggravating to drive around and around to find a spot, only to see 20 empty ones behind the orange tape and the signs.

In the last year, they remodeled the front hospital entrance. It’s beautiful. However, there’s no way to count the actual parking spaces lost, but it was quite a few – now you have to walk a minimum of 100 yards to get from the door to the nearest space. Sure, there’s a shuttle. Theoretically. I’ve never seen them.

Last week I had an appointment for a mammogram. I drove around for 15 minutes; no parking. None. I went home.

So today I called to reschedule.

First, I had to find the number for the Breast Center – and yes, it’s really called that. Typed in the URL for St. John’s – sorry again, MERCY – and was redirected. To the most BS-ridden piece of web junk I’ve seen in recent history. It was IMPOSSIBLE to find that phone number. And I’m pretty familiar with websites. Can’t imagine how some poor individuals are going to manage this. I’m betting their web hits drop like a rock. It’s ridiculous.

Let me digress for a moment: a year or so ago St. John’s – oops – implemented a new computer system. It was supposed to make things easier, so that any of one’s doctors could pull up patient information; anyone, really, with the proper access, could find this information and thus it would enable easier scheduling, information sharing, etc., etc.

So I finally just called the main number. I listened to a long list of options, finally pushed zero for an operator. And then I listed the phone ring. And ring. For several minutes.

I called back. Asked for the Breast Center. The gal asked my name and birthdate. Okay, fine so far, they have to identify you. Then the questions began.

Have I ever had a mammogram? Why yes, quite a few. Somewhere around a dozen or so. The last four at ST. JOHN’S (crap, forget it, never gonna get the hang of saying “Mercy”). Isn’t that on the file you pulled up with my name and birthdate? What happened to that computer system? And why are you asking if I’ve ever had a biopsy? I know that wasn’t at St. John’s, but it’s in my file because they need to know I have a metal marker in there and that I’ve had problems before – duh. Then she asked when was my last mammogram…um, last year. Right there. At St. John’s. Duh, again.

She asked when I’d like to come in. I told her any time was good, as long as there was a parking space; and I told her to schedule it whenever I could actually park. She said there was never a good time for that. Huh. Wonder how they’re going to pay for all the fancy “improvements” if no one can ever park, come in, and pay them. Oh, wait – you can pay online.

Why, I plumb forgot about that – I mean, because every time you come in you’re assigned a new account number. Yep, just this year alone I’ve generated half a dozen of those – and that’s not counting anyone else in my family. Because, you know, when you have a creditor it’s always best to have to keep track of 17 numbers. Can you imagine if, say, every time you made a purchase, your Visa card gave you a new account number for that transaction? Yeah. Chaos.

So paying online is also difficult, at best, because you can’t login and see all your bills – someone is going to read this and say yes, you can, you can create an account. Well, yeah, if you know all your account numbers. Maybe. If the system is working. Otherwise, you have to type in this long-ass number and that one will come up. Maybe.

This is what it comes down to:

When folks are struggling with the high cost of medical care – why in the world is St. John’s seeking to spend every dime (or millions of dimes) for all these “improvements”? And the name change? “Mercy?” Where’s the mercy here? People are overcharged every minute of every day for healthcare, yet the hospitals cry poor. Seems like they need a new accountant instead.


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