That was bad enough, but it gets better - NOT! I was taken to a tiny, cramped examining room that I could barely get into, nor maneuver my wheelchair. The examining table was inaccessible, as was the scale. A quick peek at the restroom told me that if they wanted a urine specimen from me (they did), it wasn't going to happen!
While normally, that visit would have been my last, I'm stuck because that doctor is the only one anywhere near my house (two buses and an 8-block walk) who accepted my insurance AND was accepting new patients.
It wouldn't matter, anyway. Almost every doctor's office, clinic and hospital is inaccessible in some way, to people with disabilities, particularly, those of us who use wheelchairs. Often, as in my own experience, even though we can get into a building (sometimes we can't, due to steps or inaccessible doors), we can't access the equipment, such as scales, examining tables, x-ray and mammogram machines. Further, just try asking for a sign language interpreter and see what happens! Also, most offices have that harsh fluorescent lighting that doesn't work well for autistic folks or those with epilepsy.
I just don't get it. Doctors deal with folks with all kinds of conditions; you'd think that they would have equipment that everyone can use, to say nothing of an office and examining room that everyone can get into, especially in this post-ADA era that we are living in. That makes sense, doesn't it?
The truth is this: Doctors treat sick people, not disabled people. Sick and disabled are not synonymous; folks with disabilities are often quite healthy. Often, unless a doctor specializes in treating people with certain disabilities, they don't know how to deal with us.
Sadly, doctors are just like most of society when it comes to disabled folks; we simply are NOT on their radar. That may be surprising, given the profession, but this is borne out by the utter incomprehension of doctors when the subject is brought up. It's not that accessible equipment doesn't exist, it's that the majority of doctors and hospitals fail to research where they can find the equipment, then, purchase it.
Frankly, I'm sick and tired of this. It's infuriating to know that here in the 21st century, 24 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities are still facing physical and attitudinal barriers when it comes to accessing health care. While I understand that small practices may not be able to afford accessible medical equipment, it pisses me off that large offices and hospitals, particularly those owned and operated by universities, which receive federal funding, still don't have equipment that's accessible to everyone. What really ticks me off is that the hospitals owned and run by churches and religious organizations are exempt - they don't have to be accessible. Still, you think they'd go ahead and do it. After all, doesn't the higher power care about everyone?
Being treated like a second class citizen hurts, to say the least. Personally, I think it's time to take action. Letters and lawsuits are fine, but I think that the time has come for nonviolent direct action. Pickets. Protests. Vigils. Shutdowns. It may be radical, even sacrilegious, but so what? It's obscene, even criminal that many in our community still face inaccessibility at the doctor's office!