by Mary Ellen Beebe R.N.
Manitowoc County Red Shield Clinic Director
Though committed to offering excellent medical care, staff at our clinic recognizes they can’t meet all of our clients’ needs. Some have problems beyond the scope of our practice, but we’re there for our clients in a different, and in some respects equally important, way. In these cases our practitioner or nurse attempts to find a referral site for the client.
One such client was a 28-year-old college student who came to the clinic with back pain from a six-month-old injury. He couldn’t hold down a job to pay for any medical care because of the injury. Not only was he in pain, but he was having difficulty walking and was experiencing numbness in both legs.
Our doctor saw him and prescribed a muscle relaxant and an anti-inflammatory drug, but told him to go to the emergency room if the symptoms got worse. He was to return to the clinic in two weeks for a re-evaluation.
He came back the following week with even more difficulty walking, numbness and he had developed urinary dribbling. He had not gone to the emergency room because he could not afford treatment. Our doctor determined he needed to be seen by an orthopedic surgeon, and soon.
When I contacted an orthopedic surgeon the next morning and explained the situation the scheduler asked me to send over the referral, and she would show it to the doctor’s nurse. I drove the referral over in person, and our client was called in for x-rays that very day free-of-charge.
Our client was diagnosed with an urgent orthopedic problem and was taken into surgery. The doctor later reported that had our client not taken care of the issue immediately, he would have had difficulty walking, numbness in his legs and urinary dribbling for the rest of his life. We’re grateful to have helped our client avoid disaster.