Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blood Test

'No, my dear, you've got it all wrong. We're no longer a drop-in centre.'

The receptionist's smart blonde bob and air of efficiency was in keeping with smart new clinic at New Cross. That wasn't the point, though.

'But it says here...' I showed her my doctor's form with its list of options.

'Ah, yes, that's an old form. You'll have to let the practice know.'

As I'd had the form a few weeks I didn't say much, in case I got into trouble.

Luckily there was a cancellation for next day at 8.25am. After she reassured me my Freedom pass would get me through the New Cross Station barrier at that time of the morning - it did - I decided to go for it. Plenty of time to return home before my Chinese class and another night off the booze wouldn't do me any harm. It was a 'fasting' test.

The ambience was a big improvement on the dingy old place near New Cross Gate, which inspired dread of a death sentence.

At Waldron the interior was all was space and light, with automatic sliding doors and an enormous mural inside depicting the borough's notable architecture. I recognised Deptford Town Hall and the spire of a Hawksmoor church bathed in light emanating from the clouds. The various departments leading off corridors around the atrium were called 'suites'.

Next morning I reported at Suite 9, the blood test centre on the second floor. It was almost deserted, the pale floors gleaming.

'Just sit there and the receptionist will be out shortly', said a passing assistant behind the counter, pointing to a line of empty chairs. So I settled to wait. Even the magazines were shiny and new. I was soon thanking the powers that be I didn't have the problems aired in 'Take a Break'.

Sure enough, as more people arrived names were called by a man in a white coat carrying a sheaf of forms. It took me a while to realise I still had my form, and I approached the counter again. 'Oh, why didn't you come to the desk when you first arrived?'

The nurse who took the blood said the same thing, only rather more sternly. Still, it was quick and painless and all was shiny and new in the consulting room, where two other gents were being seen to.

I asked how soon the results would get back to the doctor. 'Five Days!'

'Oh, so quick!' I complimented her. My test was just routine, but I thought of a cousin, younger than me, who died of lung cancer while her test results were still being processed.

The nurse crossed the room and began tapping away at her computer. I hung about until one of the male attendants, seeing me, asked her if I should wait.

'Oh, I didn't see you were still there ' She carried on typing.

It seems that like Lennox in 'Macbeth' I should not have waited on the order of my going.

So, what with my out of date form, being given wrong instructions and not recognising when I'd been dismissed , I enjoyed my visit to the Waldron. It was like being in a Kafka novel.

The new building is impressive. Now all they need is to improve communications.

Waldron Health Centre: http://www.londononline.co.uk/profiles/180052/


Katy said...

Loved your post, thank you.

Shiny new building, same old attitude by the sound of it. That atmosphere of indifference makes it very hard to breathe at times I thnik!

Sheila Cornelius said...

Thanks for your comment, Katy. I hate to whinge about a nice new clinic when so many hospitals are closed down.I guess the staff are case-hardened, and probably over-worked, but as you say, it makes it hard to breathe.