“I’ve been seeing all these reports on the news about H1N1 and that it can cause deaths and I have some concerns,” the caller said.
“Okay.” This conversation took place sometime in 2009. I already knew this wasn’t a death report. What I didn’t know was where this phone call was going.
Just in case you’re new to this blog series, I used to work as a death investigator. In a morgue. I spent my days assisting pathologists by conducting scene investigations, gathering medical records/police reports, and taking medical-history interviews from family members and friends. All of this was done to help the pathologist determine cause and manner of death.
“I was wondering if I could make an appointment because I think I might have H1N1.”
“If you have concerns about your health then you should make an appointment to see your doctor.”
“I don’t have a doctor.”
“Okay. There’s always the urgent care clinic or the emergency room.”
“I was told your office conducted services for free.”
“What do you mean sort of?”
I struggled, trying to find the words to explain to this guy what exactly we did which was weird for me because I explained the role of the medical examiner’s office to people all the time. And yet, here I was trying to figure out how to tell this guy – tactfully – that we only offered free services for people who died under a specific set of circumstances.
“This is the medical examiner’s office. The purpose of this office is to conduct forensic examinations on people who have died so we can determine their cause and manner of death. The doctors who work at this office are forensic pathologists. They’re not licensed to provide medical treatment to individuals who are….Who aren’t deceased.”
“So, they’re not that kind of doctor?” he asked.
“So how do I find out if I have H1N1?”
“As I mentioned before, if you’re feeling ill you should see a doctor at an urgent care clinic or emergency room. The county healthy department probably has someone there who can answer questions about H1N1. I can get you their phone number.”
“That’s alright. Thanks for your time.”
I don’t know if this existed in 2009 but I did a quick Internet search and found The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics. Only a handful of states have these clinics but if you know someone who needs medical treatment and doesn’t have insurance, please have them visit this website.
If you have any questions about this blog or any of the others I’ve written, feel free to leave your questions in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for shopping Snark, Sass, & Sarcasm! I’ll see you next time.