When you relocate, especially from Mainland United States to the Big Island, the challenge of finding a new family physician, dentist, and ophthalmologist can be a daunting task. (About as exciting as knowing you have to schedule a colonoscopy!) It was also necessary for us to secure a new insurance company. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
God does not see as humans see. Humans look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks into the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7b
After making a minimum of twenty inquiry phone calls to family physicians on our provider list, we had come up with a big fat zero. “We are sorry, but we are not accepting new patients at this time,” was the anthem we repetitively heard from the other end of the phone line. So we called our new insurance company, moving up the chain of command, and finally, announced to some poor soul, “If you don’t find us a physician, we are canceling our policy AND demanding a full refund!”
A few days later, we had two names and phone numbers. Pat called the first one on the list, and before you could say, “Mamalahoa Highway,” we had dual appointments to meet Dr. David A. Jung. (I called the second suggested physician just for the fun of it, but ultimately received the same “anthem.”) The receptionist kindly explained to me what the problem really was, “The Island is short about two hundred doctors!” Hmmm, with eight-and-a-half percent unemployment nationwide, it seems there are job opportunities in Hawaii!
When the day of our dual appointments finally arrived, and we had successfully navigated through the streets of Hilo, Pat pulled up in front of an obviously antiquated building in an area that looked like its neighbor buildings had already been condemned! I have to admit that my antennae shot up. “Who is this doctor anyway? Why is his office in such a dilapidated area? How good could he possibly be? Should we head for the hills while all body parts are still intact?” My mind was in a whirl. Pat seemed unfazed. As we climbed the steps, we entered into a whole new world …
A cool breeze met us at the threshold as we stepped into a huge waiting area with wall-to-wall paned windows. The receptionist window was on our immediate right, but our gaze beckoned us down a long, wide hallway sporting at least a dozen doors on both sides. The ceiling had to be twenty feet high, with walls painted in two conflicting shades of muted green. Pat leaned over and whispered in my ear, “An open-air concept.” After a quick review of the extremely worn floor tile butting up to dark, stained hardwood leading down the corridor, I could have come up with another design evaluation that would neither be as creative or as forgiving! It just didn’t look like any doctor’s office I had ever visited. As we approached the receptionist’s window, we were greeted by a very friendly young gal who looked to be in her early thirty’s. Directly behind her was a tall vase containing a display of Amaryllis blooms that looked like something out of a 1.800.FLOWERS commercial. “Are those real?” I inquired. “Oh, yes. A patient brought them in to us today,” was her cheerful reply.
Are you kidding me? I thought to myself. The antennae started to retract just a bit. We filled out the necessary paperwork while she took copies of our new Hawaii driver’s licenses and insurance cards. Soon, an equally friendly nurse guided us through one of those dozen or more doors. While the nurse completed our basic medical charts, we pumped her with questions about the building. (Inquiring minds want to know.) She explained that it was originally a Japanese Hospital built in 1936. (Okay, that explains the design concept!) Named after Dr. Zenko Matayoshi, who emigrated from Okinawa in 1924, the Matayoshi Hospital now houses two doctor’s offices. Our examination room was decorated with an antique medicine cabinet, still sporting the original two tiny (yet rusted) keys. Little carts on wheels, a folding privacy screen, ample magazines if one gets bored, and of course, the exam bed finished the decor. It turns out the exam room was originally the operating room!
Soon, we met with Dr. Jung, a most agreeable man of Chinese descent. After spending a good half an hour discussing my medical history, he turned to focus on Pat. I slipped out of the room in search of an article Pat had mentioned about the building. After finding it framed and hanging on one of the muted green walls, I took it down and asked the sweet receptionist if she would make a copy for me. “Of course,” was her reply. She handed me our driver’s licenses, and then I scooted off to the ladies room. As I exited, I tucked the licenses under my arm. Please don’t ask me why!
Soon, Pat was finished with his time with Dr. Jung, so I handed him his driver’s license. Mine was already safely placed back in my wallet. He turned to me and asked, “Where is my medical card?” I replied that the receptionist hadn’t returned it yet. Upon returning from the receptionist window, Pat said that she had given me the card along with our driver’s licenses. Remembering that I had tucked them under my arm, I raised my right arm only to discover the cards were still there! Are you kidding me? I had been walking around the office for ten minutes with the plastic medical cards stuck under my armpit, and I didn’t even know they were there! I laughed until the tears rolled down my face and onto that well-worn tile floor!
We skipped out the door toward our next task, praising God that the one and only doctor who would add us onto his patient list was the perfect doctor for us, and housed in the most refreshing office we could possibly imagine.
What did I learn? How quick I am to jump to conclusions and make hasty evaluations based on practically no facts! I look at a building that, on the outside, seems to have no value, only to discover a rich history of service to the Japanese sugar cane workers and their families. I wonder why a doctor would accept us as new patients when twenty others said no, only to discover a committed family physician who takes the time to get to know his patients rather than rushing because we have a less-than-stellar insurance plan. And I am once again eternally grateful that God chooses to look at my heart rather than the human package that contains it. He has chosen me, in all my imperfections, to be adopted back into His flock, to walk with me daily through His Holy Spirit, and to eventually take up residence in heaven with Him. What more could I ask for? What more could we all ask for?
P.S. I have also learned that just as socks can get lost in my dryer, medical cards can temporarily get lost under my arm!