Frugal Emergency Visit


Okay, so you’re thinking, “NOT!” and I’m agreeing it wasn’t so much Cheap, as making the most of a very bad situation.  But in light of what happened, I’d say “frugal” best describes it.

So I was alone Saturday, cutting down the way overgrown bushes at the back corner, which were really encroaching the two neighboring fences.  Very close to the end of this work, a small green twig got caught, and the blade fell off the chainsaw (you see where I’m going with this?).  I immediately unplugged the machine, and carried it to the garage workbench to adjust per written instructions (because I am a woman and I  do read them).  “Make sure the guide nuts are only finger tight.”  These nuts were on good and really tight.  Oh, the vise grips worked, but my hand slipped, and my thumb went right into the blade. 

I thought I’d broken a nail, which I did.  Then I realized it was pretty darn deep.  And dirty.  And really bleeding.  (Tip: don’t use full-strength soap on a deep cut; it hurts.) 

So I called our insurance carrier (BCBSNE) to find out the closest urgent care provider on our insurance plan.  OMG!  I was in phone menu Hell for five painful minutes, then got a representative who wanted me to tell her the name and number of the provider I wanted!  ARE you kiddin’?!?!  In utter frustration, I hung up with my hand still dripping blood and in great pain. 

My next door neighbor recommended the Urgent Care at 168/Maple, so I zoomed up there.  The gal at the front desk did not even look up at me.  Thirty seconds later, as she was still slooowly filling out someone’s file, she muttered, “Just to let you know, the wait is at least an hour.”  To which I replied, “Okay.  My thumb is cut very deeply, and I am bleeding pretty badly.  Where is the next closest urgent care to here?  I don’t care who it is.”  “Oh,” she said, and finally looked  up, at the ceiling.  “At 177th and Center, probably.”  She did not look at my injury, or ask about it. Unbelievable  bedside manner.

It was a straight shot down 168 to Lakeside Hospital, so I just went directly to the ER.  After just a few seconds, people helped me and got an ER tech to look at my thumb right away.  He assessed it, got me sterile gauze and a wrap, and two minutes later I was registering.  The man calmed me right down, and made sure I got the attention my wound needed.   Sure, I was there more than two and a half hours total, BUT, that included the triage, a digital block (30 minutes to take effect), treatment, stitches, the lovely bonus of a tetanus shot, and a personal visit from the finance person.

I was also serenaded by a toddler in complete distress.  I wanted to join the choir, but the nurse begged asked me not to.

The ER copay was $125.  I think that is frugal.  I would have sat doing nothing but crying for an hour at Urgent Care before anyone looked at me, and probably wouldn’t have been as comfortable.  Yes, I will probably get a few miscellaneous bills from Alegent for my Lakeside visit, but I know I was treated quickly, I am confident the medical treatment was correct, and they actuallycared!  Trauma is more than physical.

That, my friends is value, and that makes my decision to go to the ER frugal.  Getting the most from effort and payment, not just having the lowest payment. 

All things considered, it could’ve been much worse.  I still won’t look at it, but it feels much better, and the gauze dressing is smaller now.  I can type, with much editing and attention to the space bar.  And the stitches are scheduled to come out Friday.  Fun times.

UPDATE:  I was at the ER on Saturday afternoon.  There was no mail Monday due to Columbus Day.  Today, Tuesday, I got a personalized thank you note from the ER.  Can you believe it?!


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