The doctor is out

  • Julie Muhlstein / Herald Columnist
  • Thursday, October 25, 2001 9:00pm
  • Local News

They weren’t like Dr. Lockwood, the pediatrician of my childhood. They didn’t show up at your house if you got the mumps. Doctors don’t do that anymore. No one gets the mumps anymore, either.

Winds of change long ago blew away the kind of medical care I knew as a kid. Mine is probably the last generation to recall a midnight house call, a black bag at your bedside, an expert hand on a fevered forehead.

These days, the family doctor seems a quaint piece of midcentury history. Many of us now have no choice but to pick some "primary care physician" from a list sanctioned by an employer’s health plan.

At least I have had a port in the storm. Since the early 1980s, my children and I have been served by doctors at the Everett Family Practice Center.

They weren’t like Dr. Lockwood, but they knew us.

So I was none too happy to get a letter this week "to regretfully inform you that, after 24 years of care and service to the community, Everett Family Practice Center is closing its doors."

The letter blamed a trio of troubles: an exodus of doctors, the sinking economy, and tight insurance reimbursements. For me, it meant a new pain in the neck added to a health care headache I was already suffering.

This summer I got a letter saying that Dr. Rajka Milanovic — my doctor — was leaving Everett Family Practice. I was already trying to figure out whether she would still be included in my health plan at her new location and whether I should follow her or stay where I knew other doctors.

Now this. I feel medically homeless, adrift.

I know there are other wonderful doctors in our community, and many of them are on my insurer’s list. Still, I had found someone I liked. My son’s doctor is also at Everett Family Practice. Leaving a place where I’ve been a patient for 20 years will be painful.

Plus, I have to change all those emergency contact phone numbers with schools and my child care provider. It sounds like a small thing. For someone with too much to do already, it is not a small thing.

Whenever I’d visit the center, either to see my own doctor or take one of the kids to theirs, the nurses and other staff would greet us by name. "Hi, how are you? Isn’t he getting big?" Again, a small thing. But it’s not a small thing.

A few years ago, I called out of the blue for an appointment. The receptionist for my physician at the time, Dr. Frederick Kimball, asked what the problem was. I discreetly (from my office phone) said I was fairly certain I was expecting another baby. The response was something like, "HOW old are you now, Julie?"

The receptionist knew me well enough by phone to know I was old enough to require the services of Milanovic, who apparently had expertise in what a peek at my chart later revealed to be "elderly maternity."

That all turned out fine.

Here’s how well I was treated. The morning after my husband died, my doctor apparently saw a newspaper that contained his obituary. My phone rang at 9 a.m.

It was Milanovic, asking me to come see her. I protested, saying I was really fine. She insisted.

When I got there, this doctor who I know is under pressure to keep appointments brief sat down with me for, I don’t know, maybe 45 minutes. She just talked, and let me talk.

How are you? OK, I guess.

Can you sleep? A little. (I lied.)

I left feeling better. Not a whole lot better, but better.

Small thing? Not to me.

Oh, we’ll survive. The closure of Everett Family Practice Center won’t kill us.

It has taught me something. For years, I’ve been skipping over all this convoluted news about health care takeovers and other people’s insurance hassles. Somebody else’s problem, I’d think.

When it happens to you, it’s a whole different deal. And it’s not a small thing.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

Cars drive through snow along I-5 in Snohomish County, Washington on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
In March, 7 p.m. sunsets are back for Western Washington

Washingtonians will finally start seeing more sun starting March 10. But a little more winter could be on the way first.

One of the parking lots at Stevens Pass Thursday afternoon on December 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Stevens Pass to charge $20 for parking reservations on busy days

Two-thirds of spaces will remain free for early arrivers on weekends. Cars with four or more occupants can also park free.

Lynnwood
Days after shootout with Lynnwood police, suspect checks into hospital

Police learned the 18-year-old was in a hospital in Portland, Oregon. His alleged role in the shooting remained unclear.

Everett
Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Patrick Kunz speaks during his sentencing on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington.(Annie Barker / The Herald)
Everett gymnastics coach who spied on students sentenced to 6 months

Patrick Kunz, 47, pleaded guilty to charges of voyuerism and possession of child pornography last month.

Traffic moves along Highway 526 in front of Boeing’s Everett Production Facility on Nov. 28, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / Sound Publishing)
Everett transgender mechanic alleges Boeing treated her ‘like a zoo animal’

For years, Boeing allowed toxicity “to fester and grow” at its Everett factory, according to Rachel Rasmussen, an employee from 1989 to 2024.

Everett police officers survey the scene of a shooting along East Casino Road on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Washington’s 5th police academy could be in Snohomish County

A new academy in Northwest Washington would help clear a lengthy wait list for new police hires to get training.

Monroe High School (Monroe School District)
Monroe High School teacher accused of sexual misconduct, put on leave

Few details were not available Thursday afternoon. Police were seeking information from the public.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.