We are “Correctional Officers,” not “Guards.” | Anthony Gangi Systems Information Analysis | LinkedIn

This is indeed a perception that is evolving and needs to change, but we are still a long way from accomplishing this goal. Even within the Law Enforcement community there is a very distinct misconception about the roles, functions, training, and capabilities of Corrections Officers from Police Officers.  I am hopeful that continued education will start to break down many of these barriers.


Source: We are “Correctional Officers,” not “Guards.” | Anthony Gangi Systems Information Analysis | LinkedIn

Why I Fired My Doctor

Let me start with the simple, to-the-point reason why I fired my doctor before I elaborate further:  He and his office staff forgot that they are a business and that I am a customer. Period. Pretty to the point.

I am writing this article, because unfortunately this is a not all-to-uncommon experience that many have experienced, but few have addressed. As customers, we need to address it. We need to take bold steps or these unacceptable practices will not stop. I have not been able to figure out for the life of me why medical offices believe that the basic courtesies expected from other business providers just simply don’t apply to them.

This decision did not come easily.  I have seen the same doctor for over 10 years. I like him. He is personable and knowledgeable. I like the nurses, the physicians assistants and the medical assistants that work in his office. All of this, however, was not enough to keep me on as a patient. I had reached a point where instead of feeling that my provider was a partner in my health, they had become a detriment to my health.

Allow me to provide the background before I illustrate the specific incident that led to my very direct statement to my provider that, “I will be looking for a new doctor.”

Lack of respect for my time.  In 10 years, I have not had one single appointment that has happened on-time.  In fact, I have had only a bare few that have happened in what I would call a “reasonable” amount of time. Keep in mind that if I arrive more than 20 minutes late for an appointment (which I never have), the office policy is to cancel my appointment and charge me for it. The office, however, has no such provision to reimburse me when I have sat in the lobby for as long as an hour and fifteen minutes after my scheduled time. Then when I am actually placed in an exam room, I have waited up to another 45 minutes to even have the doctor come in the room.  Approximately five years ago, I went into the office for a routine annual physical. My appointment was for 11:45am.  I returned home from the appointment at almost 4:00pm. I did not stop on the way home; I live less than 10 minutes from the doctor’s office.

Just to be an additional little thorn in my side, when I receive the 24-hour pre-appointment reminder call, they actually have the nerve to ask me to arrive 15 minutes before my appointment time in case I need to update any paperwork.

Disinterested reception staff.  When a business hires any employee who has to have ongoing and frequent contact with the public, they need to make sure that those people are truly customer service-oriented.  While some of the staff who work the reception desk have been friendly, one, who also happens to be the office manager and the person with whom all patients must check out is simply as cold as a dead fish. No smiles, no easy conversation, no interest in what the patients asks or needs. She simply wants to collect your copay, schedule your next appointment, and move you along. I’m not asking for balloons and confetti when I get to the desk, just courtesy.

Lack of internal communication.  It is quite amazing to me, particularly now in the age of electronic medical records, how poorly doctor offices can communicate within their own walls.  Recently, I was due for a refill on a prescription. I had a physical scheduled, but due to a work conflict had to reschedule. As a result, I explained that I would run out of my medication and needed a refill, at least enough to carry me over to my new appointment time.  The office would provide me no answer at that time. I was told “we will leave a message for the doctor and see what he wants to do.” I never heard back. I don’t know if the doctor received the message and simply was too bothered to do anything, or if the staff never relayed. Oh, what the heck, just my blood pressure medication, no big deal…right?

Unreasonable scheduling.  This is what really signaled the end for my doc.  As I previously stated, I had an appointment for my annual physical scheduled. At 50 years old, with a family history of heart issues, I think this is pretty important. The appointment was for in mid-September. Do to the length of time in advance that I had to make the appointment, I had no idea that a work-scheduling issue would mean I would have to reschedule, but it did, and I contacted the office well in advance and sought to reschedule.  The next available appointment I was told was early November.  I took it, placed it in my calendar and even made sure I had things cleared so that I would not miss it again.  On the day before the appointment I got a call from the office. The doctor was going to be out and had to reschedule.  I asked the earliest date, thinking that they would get me in in just a few more days.  December 22 was the earliest he could see me I was told; and that did it.  I advised the young lady on the phone that I was a ten-year patient and that we had already had to reschedule once. I told her that I was out of my prescription as no one had gotten back with me after the last reschedule, as they were supposed to. I wanted an earlier date. She was apologetic, but stated there were no other days.  That was when I advised her that I would not be rescheduling, that I would be looking for a new doctor.

I have also followed up with a letter directly to the doctor as I am not sure that he will receive any information on this from his staff.

I had reached a point where I was no longer contacting or interacting with my doctor’s office. When this happens, it becomes, as I said early in this piece, a detriment to my health. I avoid dealing with health related issues because dealing with the doctor’s office feels to be an even worse alternative. And that is wrong!

I have fired doctor’s before. Several years ago I let my optometrist go for very much the same reasons.  My “new” optometrist is proof that there are better doctors out there who are far more respectful of their clients needs.

As consumers we need to stand up and let providers know that this level of service is simply not acceptable. We would have no compunction releasing an attorney, a CPA, or a financial planner from servicing us for the same reasons, why is it we seem to be afraid to stand up to medical providers?  Perhaps if they began to lose business, they would become keenly aware that changes need to occur.

Like most professions these days, at least if you live in a larger metropolitan area, doctor’s are a dime-a-dozen.  They need us as patients to be successful and remain in practice. They need to work with our needs, not the other way around.

I hope you take the time to think seriously about your relationship with your doctor.  Is it what you want? If so, congratulations and by all means stay put, because you have something that many, many of us long for. If, on the other hand, this article rings true with your experience, and I know from many I have talked to that this is NOT an uncommon scenario, seriously consider either 1) talking to or 2) firing your doctor. It’s your health and the only life you get. You have the right to expect the very, very best that can be provided.

Burying My Brother

I am sitting aboard an American Airlines flight. At 34,000 feet, suspended over a dark America, I don’t know where I am, only that in 2 hours I will land in Detroit. I will be home. It has been a long 9 days.

Nine days ago I was sitting in my office planning out my work schedule. When I heard my cell phone ringing and saw that my son was calling, I assumed that he was calling to tell me that he was all moved into his new apartment in Los Angeles and things were good. He had only just returned to California from a visit to see our family in Michigan. His call, unfortunately, was not a happy one.

“Hey pops,” I heard Nick’s voice say, “what’s going on?”

“Oh, not much, at work, you?”

“Have you talked to anyone?”

“No, what’s up?”

“I think you better call grandma and grandpa.”

“Why?,” I asked, anxiety just starting to creep up my neck.

“Just call them, okay?”

I did. I got no answer. I shot a text to my brother Eric saying I got a confusing call from Nick and did he know anything. I then called Nick back.

“Grandma and grandpa didn’t answer buddy and your call is freaking me out. Tell me what’s going on!”

A long pause. The he says, “Uncle Steve died.”


“I don’t know. I just found out. I didn’t want to be the one to tell you.”

Just then my brother Eric text back. “You got a minute? Call.”

I did. Eric didn’t know much more. I heard “massive heart attack.” I heard “about an hour ago.” I don’t remember much more.

I am from a large family. Including me, there are 9 kids, and my parents, though in their 80’s, are still healthy and mobile. Though the youngest of us is 47, we had never lost a sibling. Steve was the first. He was only 56. I’m 50. 56 is very close to 50.

As I said, we are a large family. With the exception of me in Michigan, none of my siblings live further from California than Arizona. I felt like I was stranded on an island. I was 2,000 miles away. I might as well have been on the other side off the world for how I felt at that moment.

I left work and headed home. I had to make plans. I had to book a flight, get a car, hotel, etc. Then, when I got home, I realized that I knew absolutely nothing. I couldn’t make plans. Maybe I should just fly out first thing in the morning. They usually bury people within three days don’t they? I was in limbo. Limbo is a bad place.

I waited. I kept checking airfare. It kept getting more and more expensive. I needed to make a decision. On Thursday night my sister Shelley called. She said the best she could offer was that something might happen as early as Monday or as late as Friday. Friday morning I couldn’t wait any longer. I booked a flight that got me into southern California on Sunday and put me out late on the next Friday. I let family know I was on my way.

By the time I arrived at my parents home in California’s inland empire on Sunday the plans were finalized. Viewing and memorial on Thursday, burial on Friday. More limbo.

The unexpected death of a family member is a terrible thing. While my brother and I were not close, he was my brother and I have hundreds of memories of our growing up. Some funny. Some sad. Some angry. Some weird. What was more difficult was not my own grief at the loss of my brother, but the grief I felt for his wife and three children. The grief I felt for my parents, having to bury a child. The funeral is such a necessary step in being able to move on, to acknowledge that we all have to go forward. The limbo of having to wait over a week to complete this hard, sad, but necessary ritual was a limbo that was a hell.

One area of my family life that I am always proud of is our ability to come together in difficult times. Sometimes years pass in which I don’t see any of my brothers and sisters, but when adversity strikes we all flock back home, like moths to a lamp.

It is very necessary to note that the title of this blog – Burying My Brother – has dual meaning.  The first is the obvious, funerals must happen. I have covered that part already.  The second is more of a figurative and emotional perspective. The need to bury the baggage of the past.

As I said, my brother and I were not close.  In the past 35 years I had only seen Steve a handful of times. It wasn’t just distance that kept us apart. We were very different people. I, for the most part am fairly low key. Steve was a very “in-your-face” sort of guy.  He was a braggart. He told  grand tales that held not a shred of truth, but I think he told them so many times he believed them to be fact. He was loud, often a bully, and opinionated. I simply had lost a desire to spend time with him or being talked at by him. Also, over the years, Steve’s antics and behavior has caused a great deal of pain and heartache to my parents, two people who dedicated their lives to their family and truly deserved better treatment than they often received.

As a result of all this, I missed a part of Steve’s life that was growing and developing out of view from me.  Through his sons, my brother had become very involved in coaching and supporting soccer. First through my nephews, and as they grew up, through various soccer clubs, and ultimately as the coach of a high school team. He spent time with each and every player. He got to know them. He helped motivate them to go to college. He helped them with college applications and gave them letters of recommendation.  These kids he coached and influenced? They saw a Steve I never had, and they loved him.

On Thursday, November 12, after the visitation and viewing at the funeral home, a memorial service had been organized at the high school where Steve coached. Hundreds of people were present. The soccer kids he had coached over the years were there. Some of his former players, now in college, actually flew home just to be there. They wore their jerseys and on each sleeve was affixed a patch – In Memory of Coach Steve.  The service was supposed to go from 6:30 until 7:30 or 8:00, but the line of past and current players who wanted to speak was so long that I didn’t get back to my hotel until after 11:00.

The service was nothing short of amazing.  All these players and parents who spoke introduced me to a side of my brother that I had no idea existed. There are no words. Amazing is an inadedquate and weak description.  The service and the speeches and the outpounring of love allowed me to accomplish the other “burial.” To bury my long held perceptions of the man I knew, and replace them with pride and love for how he had touched the lives of so many.  Those kids, for whom my brother meant so much, helped me that day more than they will ever know.  Steve left a legacy in his community and it was a good legacy.  He is missed. He was appreciated. He was loved. I know that my entire family was equally touched.

At the burial, as I filed past my brothers casket, I leaned down and whispered a final message to my brother. I will close with that message.

“Rest well, brother. I hope that you find peace.”

The Pirates Treasure

Poetry is not my thing, yet I felt compelled tonight to write, so here is new twist to my “Senseless Ramblings.”

 I gaze upon the starry night

My eyes they fill with wonder

The sky is like a placid sea

The stars a pirates plunder

In the nighttime that so many fear

I only hear the silence

I think of moonlit lakeside walks

Of creating time for romance

Sometimes the sun of bright lit days

Exposes ugly features

But the shadows and the dark of night

Hide more gentle creatures

Owls, mice, raccoons, and fox

Stroll these darkened fields

The only note of their presence here

Is the sound their footsteps yield

I take a breath of the clean night air

A smile on my face

I return to my human life

Take stock by the fireplace

To know the world moves on unheeded

Fills my heart with heart with pleasure

I take one long last look upward

And eye my pirates treasure