I preface this story in saying that I still believe that you should take care of your pets and if you can’t, don’t have pets. But there’s still an altruistic side of me that wants to help pay for every single sick pet that comes through our door. I hope, that by saying something and standing up for what I believe in, that even though I wasn’t the one that found care for this cat, I helped in some little way.
On Friday this lady came in to the office whose cat was very sick: hours away from dying. We have these options for payment and if you can’t meet any of these options then we try to get some help from the humane society. She was declined for CareCredit and no one at the humane society was answering their phones. So this lady had $50 to her name and we ended up calling around to other doctors in the area to see if anyone would treat her cat pro bono. We found someone so we sent her off. Her cat lived and she didn’t have to pay a cent. Well, perhaps the $50.
So, on Monday after work, Boss finds this out and is furious. We don’t refer to other clinics, he says. We give them credit options and if they have bad credit and can’t get a credit card and their family can’t get a credit card then they deserve it (he doesn’t actually say this but essentially that’s what he meant, considering he had us look at this client’s chart to see that she hadn’t had any of her pets in for preventative care for years). I digress here to say that this cat was blocked. No amount of preventative care could have stopped it from happening. However, Boss’ point was to show me that she didn’t take care of her pets. She deserved to have her cat die. I hope that my previous article didn’t reflect the same opinion, because being at all like Boss would make me the complete opposite of the kind of person I want to be.
My coworker and I stood there for a moment, answering his questions vaguely, until finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I said, in the calmest voice possible, “I’m sorry Dr. Boss, I have to ask one thing. What’s wrong with helping a client in need find help?”
He apparently thought I meant why didn’t WE give the client help, because he started rattling on about overheads, how he can’t bill because he has to pay our salaries, etc. So I politely interrupt him and say, “No, Dr. Boss, I understand we don’t bill people and that’s fine, this is a business, but what I wanted to know was, if they don’t have any money and we couldn’t get any money for them, what’s wrong with seeing if someone else in town will care for the cat on charge or for free?”
He still evades the question, because I think we’re getting into a sticky, ethical topic here that he doesn’t want to skirt.
Finally I get him to answer that he doesn’t want to be paying us for wasting our time calling around to other clinics all day. And that he’d let it slide this time (what would he have done if I hadn’t said anything, fire the woman that referred our client?), but we are never allowed to do it again without his permission.
He thanked me for stating my opinion. I left.
I was shaking as I drove the car home – I never question authority, not directly, anyway. I think that I really drove something home with him. After he left the room, before we did, my coworker thanked me for standing up for her (she had been one of the ones that tried to help the cat). I told her that’s why I wanted to be a lawyer.
Dr. Boss tried to call me on my way home. I was on the other line with the pizza place, so I didn’t pick up. Tom and Brian are sure that he was calling to fire me. As today is my day off, I’ll just have to wait, I guess, until tomorrow to know for sure. One thing’s for certain. If he does, I’ll be even more proud of what I did. And I’ll be just fine telling prospective employers that I was fired because I didn’t agree with unethical business practices.