When a dental clinic caters to people with little or no dental insurance, it’s bound to be a mess. But exactly how bad of a mess can it be?
My first experience with Metropolitan Dental Associates (at 225 Broadway in New York City) involved a couple of difficult extractions about seven years ago. They were done so exquisitely, and with so little pain and discomfort, that I decided to use Metropolitan Dental Associates for my more routine dental needs. I didn’t have dental insurance at the time so it fit right into my budget.
It was then that I was shifted to a different part of the clinic altogether where I was introduced to the waiting room from hell.
This waiting room is so poorly designed that you must remain totally alert because your name could be called (or more frequently, mumbled) from several different directions. It could be over the partition separating the waiting room from the reception area, or it could be from the front part of the reception area from someone too lazy to get up or make eye contact, or it could be that you’re finally being called for whatever work needs to be done.
This waiting room invokes a great deal of anxiety. I feel I can’t even use the bathroom for fear of missing one of these calls, and there’s nobody you can tell “I’m going to use the bathroom, I’ll be right back” because there’s no central point in the system, and nobody cares about your pathetic bathroom needs. And you really don’t want to miss the call from the actual dentist because the wait can be very, very, very long.
This morning I had a 9:30 appointment with Dr. Vlad for a couple fillings. (I know that’s his name because it’s handwritten in marker on his white jacket.) I arrived at Metropolitan Dental Associates at 9:05 AM with the ridiculous hope that I might be taken a little earlier and get home quickly so I could get back to my work.
A couple hours into the wait, I was called to the front desk and asked to pay a $50 deductible.
About an hour later, I went back up to the front desk to indicate that it was getting late, and was told I would be seen “pretty soon.”
At about 1:00 PM — yes, nearly four hours after my arrival and 3½ hours after my appointment time — Dr. Vlad was finally ready to shoot me up and drill my teeth. But now it was much too late. There was a reason why I wanted a morning appointment. I had to be home and at my desk by 2:00 PM for a video conference.
Dr. Vlad suggested that I send an email to Mario the Office Manager expressing my concerns over the ineptitude of the management of the clinic’s office. But if Mario the Office Manager still has a job after over a hundred hair-raising 1-star Yelp reviews — many of them desperately wishing they could give the place zero or negative stars — why should my email make a bit of difference?
I’m sure there are worst dental clinics than Metropolitan Dental Associates but it’s hard to imagine how.