I had three appointments at the South West Health Campus all in one day, all related to preparing for chemotherapy to start within a week. Much of my experience that day was very good, and some of it was not good at all.
Firstly, a lung function test at St John of God Hospital. I felt this appointment was good: the person administering the test was prompt, professional, and friendly. I’m sorry that I didn’t get their name.
Secondly, meeting with the Cancer Services nurse, Ashlene, at Bunbury Hospital. In my opinion, this was better than good, it was great. The first appointment finished sooner than anticipated, so we arrived quite early—and Ashlene was happy to see us right away. She answered every question I or my partner had, gave us much information we wouldn’t have thought to ask about, and showed us around the treatment suite. She talked to us clearly and honestly. Everything she did helped us to feel at ease with the upcoming chemotherapy, and I’m glad to have her involved in the process.
Thirdly, seeing the haematologist. This was the low point of the day.
For background, I met with Dr A recently. This was a very good experience: treatment options were described, and information laid out clearly but without dumbing-down. I felt empowered to have a say in my care without fearing that I would make a wrong decision and jeopardise my treatment. We ended with an appointment booked for the same day as my other appointments, a last check-in before treatment begins. This was to be via telehealth as Dr A would not be in Bunbury.
The day before the appointment, Bunbury Hospital called me and said they’d like to move that appointment to an earlier time, as they had some vacant spots. I was fine with this, and the appointment was moved about two hours earlier. I asked if everything else about the telehealth process was unchanged, to which I recall the staff member replied, It’s a telehealth appointment? That worried me.
They said that the doctor was in fact in Bunbury, so the appointment would be face-to-face. In hindsight, I should’ve checked that “the doctor” was Dr A.
On the day of the appointment, before meeting the nurse, I asked about the appointment and confirmed that it was in person at the new time. I returned for it in the afternoon and found the waiting area packed. This worried me too. Being told about 'vacant spots', I had assumed it wouldn’t be busy. But it was only an assumption on my part, not a problem, I felt.
We waited there for an hour before my partner went back to reception to ask what was taking so long. I understand that sometimes hospitals can become unexpectedly busy, but if that were the case I would’ve thought the desk staff would say so. They didn’t, and in fact they seemed at a loss. Then we learned that the appointment was not with Dr A, who was not in Bunbury, but with another Doctor (Dr B). I don’t object to seeing a different doctor, but I like to know about it beforehand! So do doctors, I think.
After another half-hour we got in to see Dr B, who told us, I believe, plainly that they hadn’t known my appointment was moved. They apologised, though I’m not convinced it was their fault. They also needed time to read through the file and find out what was going on, so I felt the appointment wasn’t very informative.
Lastly, I needed a follow-up appointment between the first and second chemotherapy rounds. Dr B gave me the date themselves, but the desk staff said they wouldn’t be available that day and tried to book me in for a week after the second round. Instead, I got an appointment in the right timeframe… a telehealth appointment, with Dr A.
I only hope that the appointment is booked properly. I won’t be taking any suggestions of moving it. (I also hope that the original telehealth appointment was cancelled, and Dr A wasn’t still waiting around for it!)
"Pre-chemotherapy appointments: The good and the bad"
Posted by TeacherT (as ),