Community Commentary: Glad to be wrong about North County Health Services

I am embarrassed to admit that I was both skeptical and unconvinced that any sort of
community clinic would be of much help to me. I am a struggling, independent writer and for the past five years I have been taking care of my elderly mom who had a series of strokes. Since caregiving is physically and emotionally challenging (not to mention expensive since my mom didn’t have long-term care insurance or any assets) I had to put my own health issues on the back burner. And because of the financial issues (Medicare doesn’t pay for everything for her), I had to let my Kaiser health insurance lapse last summer because I could no longer afford $700 monthly premiums.
Recently, my longtime friend Jim Kydd, who is the publisher of this newspaper, urged me to make an appointment at North County Health Services in Encinitas after I mentioned my blood pressure was dangerously high. He recommended NCHS to me and reminded me daily to give them a call. Begrudgingly, I finally made the appointment, but I was preparing myself for the inevitable — hours in a waiting room, experiencing inefficient and inconsiderate staff, and in general, receiving below par care.
Boy was I wrong!
Everything I dreaded never occurred (it was a nonevent) and I was astonished at the efficiency of the services and the compassion of the staff. I had the good fortune to have my appointment with Dr. Carolene Madden, who spent time with me, listening to my health issues and giving me solid, intelligent information. I was given an immediate appointment to have a full run of blood tests in their own lab. I was also given a referral to their San Marcos office for X-ray services. Dr. Madden wrote prescriptions for me that were filled in their own onsite pharmacy in Encinitas. I also received a full list of names of retinologists so I can make an appointment with the doctor of my choice who will give me a complete eye examination to determine if I am experiencing a retinal detachment.
What I would have done without the help of North County Health Services, I just don’t know. Anyone needing medical help, whether temporary or longer term, for themselves or their children or their elderly parents should seek NCHS assistance. Don’t allow an urgent situation to escalate into a trip to the emergency room, which can be very traumatic.
NCHS should not be the best-kept secret in North County. They are a godsend and have helped me immensely with more than just labs, X-rays, prescription meds, and referrals to specialists. They have helped me gain back my peace of mind and have given me the knowledge that I needed to get back on a good health track. Plus, it didn’t break the bank. Thank you, NCHS for being there. I am so grateful. And I thank my friend, Jim, for his usual wisdom and friendship.

Sydney LeBlanc is a resident of Carlsbad.

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