If I were still living in Houston, or anywhere within 500 miles of Texas for that matter, this would be a no-brainer. I’d be at MD Anderson and probably Methodist Hospital. Since I moved to Seattle instead, there are about 9 different major hospitals to choose from. There’s Swedish, Evergreen, CHI Franciscan Health, Virginia Mason, the University of Washington, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Overlake and a couple of others.
I didn’t grow up here. I have gone to only a couple of these places in the 5 years I’ve been here. What I really wanted was an oncology office that worked with MD Anderson. I know that there are a couple out there. I made some calls and just couldn’t find a provider here, so I needed to choose locally.
UW isn’t a good option for me because (a) they’re more in the research business – they don’t require their fellows to be on any particular insurance plan, so when you get the bill, you may or may not have to file for bankuptcy. I also know that they bill a lot of things separately. When I called them about an urgent care visit, I was told that it would be extra if they were writing a prescription. Uh, no, thanks. I liked Evergreen, but they’re small and they do their own research. I wanted a hospital that works with other research centers besides itself. Swedish and Virginia Mason both work with the SCCA/Fred Hutch and other hospitals around the country.
Next it was to find out how other people felt about these other local hospitals. It turned out not to be difficult to determine. Insurance companies generally have pages with rating for doctors. Mine does. I also went looking for something like Angie’s List or Yelp. I kind of found that. Where I struck gold, though, was Glassdoor. This is a site where employees rate the companies they work for. I looked at it back when I worked for Lockheed and was transferring to WA. In a search for reviews on Swedish, the page for Glassdoor came up and so I read the employee reviews. They weren’t promising. Then I looked at Virginia Mason’s and they were much better. So I chose Virginia Mason.
I called their ob/gyn office in Bellevue to make an appointment. After explaining why I needed one, I was transferred a bunch of times until I got the person who handles the films from places outside of Virginia Mason. She asked if I could bring the films and report in. I was in Michigan, so I couldn’t do that until the following Monday. I asked if I could have the imaging center in Denver overnight them. The answer was a resounding YES! So, I had them overnighted back to Seattle. They had them uploaded and read and agreed that I needed a biopsy.