High Call Volume: The Exhaustion of Advocacy 

My actual adulting job is to advocate for a population of “high-needs” or “at-risk” students. In reality, I have a group of students that is woefully underprepared for higher education, and they all need help navigating a system that has been unkind to them, and higher ed institutions are a piece of a system they do not own the vocabulary to navigate, or the cultural capital to figure out on their own. Insert me, and these students now simply have a teammate by their side to help them figure it all out. It’s an awesome gig. I care deeply about teaching and learning, and advocating for students who desperately need to have quality learning experiences is extremely rewarding.

Advocacy is also extremely exhausting.

Oo needs appointments with several speacilists. These appointments are all over the state, and navigating availability, coverage, and need is an extremely time consuming responsibility, and super emotional. A friend put it perfectly “when you have someone you love who needs immediate care, and you are responsible for doing all of that health care coordination work, you simply do not have any moment to do the emotional processing work that you need to do.” Spot on, friend.

Every appointment needed requires a minimum of three phone calls. The first one you tell your story, and then you are transferred; you now tell your story again. The second one is a confirmation of services needed, and the collection of pre-appointment paperwork. The third phone call is to insurance. You are transferred a minimum of three times. That’s if it all goes well. Then you get authorization numbers, and call the provider back. After, you fill out all the paperwork, and the call the provider back to ensure they have received the paperwork. The above process is if everything is actually going in your favor.

It never does.

Finding providers accepting under 5 patients in-network is a special freaking challenge. Finding providers who do not have 6 month waitlists adds to the terror of this work. I have wanted to scream “she’s sick now, we need a plan before November.” I’ve completely given up on finding people close to home, and I no longer even suggest times that would work well.

Gluten free cupcake after OT today.

I am certain rouge bills will start to show up for services that I received a pre-authorization number for. I will obviously have to call again.

This week, I will drive over 200 miles to appointments. I will spend a small fortune, and be really grateful that all of my work is getting the care she needs, but here is the irony I actually had to enlist help. (I needed a Finn in the medical field.) There are professional patient care advocates. People who you can give dollars to, and they basically find you providers. (This system though….)

After terrible frustration with not finding a pediatric gastroenterologist in-network, accepting patients, and with reasonable wait times, I enlisted help. We have an appointment tomorrow, in the office that originally told me a minimum of 12 weeks to wait. Let’s not unpack that insanity right now.

Dozens of phone calls later we go tomorrow to the appointment we need the most, and the one that terrifies me.

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