The following post is in conjunction with Mamakat’s writing workshop:
They say that hindsight is 20/20. Don’t you wish we could have the same clarity with foresight? Just think… If FORESIGHT were 20/20, I’m sure we wouldn’t get blindsided from time to time the way we do.
Case in point: Several years ago, I worked for a prominent chiropractor in the Buckhead section of Atlanta. She was always trying to be on the cutting edge of trends such as the MD/DC model that lots of chiropractors participated in a few years back. What this meant was that if a DC (doctor of chiropractic) had on board at their practice an MD (medical doctor) then if the MD oversaw the patient care, sometimes the DC could charge and bill the insurance company at the higher paying MD rates rather than the Chiropractic rates and the patient could have more visits covered than what their normal chiropractic visits that were dictated by the insurance companies. There were lots of “problems” that arose with this model and it pretty much phased out somewhere between 2004 – 2006.
I happened to work there before and during the time that this era was phasing out. This DC was also pretty stubborn and would not always listen to reason and sometimes “threw good money after bad” as far as listening to some “experts” who put on seminars and practice building conferences for these vulnerable DC’s. These gurus would sometimes (for lack of a better word) con these DC’s to the tune of $50,000 to $100,000 or more PER YEAR giving them practice building “tips”. Try as I might to tell her she would be much better off putting her hard earned money to use in other practice building methods, she was insistent that these mentors were going to make her rich. Alas, they did not…
Don’t get me wrong, these techniques may work in some practices, but as I told her, EVERYONE involved in the practice had to take part and DO their part. They did not. So, after about a year of advising her not to continue wasting her money on these more or less “get rich quick” schemes, she came to the conclusion that we were going to have to pare down the staff to continue in business. Mind you, she had a business manager previously that had raked her through the coals as far as taking advantage of her good nature during the MD/DC heyday and when she saw that this model was failing, she bailed on the good doctor. I tried to salvage what was left to the tune of less than ½ what the bailer was taking her for.
I took care of overseeing all the office functions, including training, scheduling and overseeing the front office help and insurance department, filling in the gaps when help was needed in any department and handling payroll for all the employees and the doctors. The doctors had a unique way of being paid since they were technically subcontractors. They were paid on a sliding scale based on their insurance payments and number of patients seen, etc. I was the only employee who knew how to figure the doctors pay. Since I couldn’t even take a week’s vacation uninterrupted without having to do the payroll, I decided I needed to train someone to do that part of my job so if the need ever arose, I WOULD be able to take a full week off without having to worry.
I didn’t trust anyone working there to be able to figure out the payroll and I knew that one of my best friends needed the extra income so I hired her on a very limited part time basis to help out in the evening doing the extra insurance work that needed to be done. I also trained her to do the doctor’s payroll. She would come in late in the evenings a couple of days a week after she got off her regular job. It was wonderful knowing that if I wanted to I could actually take a week off and know things would run smoothly and I had someone I could actually trust helping me out.
As the economy got worse we came to the conclusion that we were going to have to cut back. I offered to take a pay cut but my boss told me “not yet” (which I greatly appreciated). The day came that she told me we were going to have to tighten our belts and get rid of all extraneous personnel except barebones minimum. Some people would need to double up in their job performance. We had laid off probably 3 or 4 people with 2 full weeks severance pay in addition to any vacation and/or sick time they had accrued. Then one day I come in and she tells me we are going to have to let go the back office guy who really helped the doctors so that they could fit more patients in. He did their “muscle” work for them so they could spend less actual time per patient and see more. I had already laid off our higher paid employees and replaced them with lower paid personnel.
That morning I again offered to take a pay and this time she agreed that starting the next week I would make X amount of dollars less. No biggie. I understood and readily agreed yo do whatever it took to help. I let the “muscle” guy go and then after lunch she called me in her office. Not such an unusual occurrence although most of the time she would come in my office when she needed something. I sat down at her desk and the following conversation took place.
DR: Do you know how much of my own money I’ve put in this business in the last year?
Me (thinking it was an actual question she wanted an answer to): Not off the top of my head, but, if you give me a few minutes, I could give you that answer.
Dr: Well, let me tell you! I put in $50,000 on ________ date (I can’t remember) and another $20,000 on ________.
Ok…. I’m thinking …. Why is she telling me all this?
Dr (very casually): So, I guess you can see why I can’t afford to pay you anymore.
Me: Excuse me? What did you just say? Are you firing me?
Dr: Well, sweetie, I’m not firing you, but, I can’t keep paying you.
OH, I feel SO much better now that we have cleared THAT up!
Me: Ok… so this is effective when????
DR: Right now.
Me: Ok… so when can I expect my severance pay, vacation pay, etc.?
Dr: Oh, I can’t afford to pay you severance pay because I used all my money to pay severance to all the other people we let go! And your vacation that I owe you, I’ll have to pay you in a few weeks… at the new rate we agreed to this morning…..
The HELL you say!!!!
Me: I’m sorry. I know things are tight, but I agreed to the new rate of pay IF I WAS EMPLOYED here, NOT for what you already owe me. You will need to pay me my vacation pay that I ALREADY earned prior to my taking the pay cut TODAY, at the old rate of pay. And just for kicks and grins…. How are you going to figure the doctors pay since no one else here knows how to do it but me?
Dr: Well, since you trained your friend, and she is only part time I am going to keep her on and let her keep doing it. She and I have already talked about it and she’s agreed to it.
And THAT my friends… is what I call being BLINDSIDED… times TWO.