Los Banos is fortunate to have good health care. This includes the many competent doctors, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners and nurses in private practice. But Los Banos is particularly fortunate, based on my recent experience, to also have a superb hospital and rural health clinic.
Last month I was a patient in both the Memorial Hospital emergency room and the Rural Health Clinic. I was treated professionally and expediently both times, in and out of each facility within an hour.
I realize I was fortunate to enter each place when it wasn’t packed. At other times, my wait might have been longer. But I think in any case I would have been treated with similar competence and courtesy.
Incidentally, if I had incurred the same evening emergency this month that sent me to the ER last month, I could have used the Rural Health Clinic since it just recently expanded its services to midnight, Monday through Saturday.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit why I needed the emergency room. While trimming grass in my front yard with a pair of scissors, I trimmed off the tip of my left index finger. If you’re thinking that seems both stupid and minor, I’ll agree on stupid. But it was anything but minor.
When a person snips off a finger’s tip the size of a half a dime, it’s hard to stop the bleeding. I could staunch the blood if I used my right hand to apply pressure to my left index finger. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep and simultaneously stanuch.
No other place could deal with this problem was open in Los Banos at 7 p.m., so the ER was my only choice. I felt bad walking in with a finger laceration when there were other people there who were seriously injured or sick.
But I was treated with understanding by the person who checked me in, then the nurse who examined the wound, then the doctor who treated me and then the nurse who wrapped up my finger so thoroughly the bleeding wouldn’t dare continue.
I checked my watch. I entered the hospital at 7:30 p.m. and was leaving at 8:30 p.m. – the shortest ER visit I had ever experienced. There was luck involved, because there was no one waiting with a more serious injury. Also, I was technically a “bleeder,” and bleeders tend to be moved to the front of the line.
My visit about two weeks later to the Rural Health Clinic was precipitated by something even less significant. I needed to have my ears irrigated to remove excessive ear wax build-up.
I’m guessing some readers are chuckling, maybe guffawing, but I can explain. I wear hearing aids, but they don’t help if wax blocks them from working. Moreover, I had completed a weekend flight from Dallas to San Jose, and the pressure built up from taking off and landing (coupled with the wax) was painful and wouldn’t go away with yawning, as it usually does.
What I appreciated most about the Rural Health Clinic was its ability to give me an appointment quickly. Monday morning I checked with my regular ENT doctor’s office. The earliest he could see me was in six weeks. I checked with my primary physician’s office. The earliest he could see me was the following week. Meanwhile, I couldn’t hear well and the ear pressure was aggravating.
Several people had told me good things about the local clinic, which is also run by Memorial Hospital, so I called. The person who answered said the clinic could help and I could have an appointment at 2 p.m.
Just as in the hospital, I was treated professionally and expeditiously – checked in, examined and irrigated within an hour. I could hear again and the pressure was gone. I realized how good it was to have a local health clinic that can respond quickly.
I’m also glad Memorial Hospital was able to turn the old Los Banos Enterprise building into a clinic. In fact, my irrigation took place almost exactly where I used to write my column in the 1980s.
I recommend the clinic to anyone who needs healthcare, especially since it is open six days a week until midnight. It’s a great resource for our community. And I’m grateful we have a hospital there in case of any emergency, even one as small as a finger laceration.
John Spevak is a resident of Los Banos; he wrote this for the Los Banos Enterprise. Email email@example.com.