Terveystalo – Where the Wellbeing of Patients Comes Last

What a disagreeable doctor I just encountered. Utterly unpleasant and very unprofessional. I have already given a formal complaint to Terveystalo, and sent an email to the chief of staff here at work. But as this was in a league of its own, I will share with you too.

As many of you know, I suffer from a bad back from time to time. After an appointment with a physiotherapist last week I was hoping it’d get better, but it didn’t. Since physiotherapy isn’t the cheapest hobby you can have, and I don’t have a trip to London (and the torturer there) scheduled right now, I decided to go get a referral from a doctor (as that in Finland means you can get some money back from the Social Insurance Institution).

We recently changed from a health station called Mehiläinen to Terveystalo, and since I’m not familiar with the doctors at this new place, I checked online who speaks Swedish, and booked an appointment with the first one in the list, Sari Valkama.

Today, I registered ten minutes before my appointment, and the girl in the reception told me which room to go to.

Five minutes after my supposed appointment, Dr. Valkama comes out and calls in another patient. Hmm.. okay.. 20 more minutes, she calls in another one. As this patient isn’t to be seen, I go to her door. This is an exact transcript of the short discussion that followed:

Me (in Swedish): –  Uhmm, sorry, I was under the impression I had an appointment with you…?
Dr. Valkama (in Finnish): – You are NN?
Me (still in Swedish): – Uhmm, no, I’m XX, I had an appointment for 8.30.
Dr. Valkama (still in Finnish, now annoyed): – I don’t think so, not me, if you’re not NN.
Me (in Swedish, now not apologetic anymore): – Oh yes, if you are Sari Valkama, I had an appointment with you at 8.30 today, Wednesday 28th, in room 226.
Dr. Valkama (in Finnish): – No, you don’t, you have to go back to the reception and see what you, or they, have messed up. Goodbye.
Me (in Swedish): – Jesus, what shitty service you provide!

Dr. Valkama turned to face her computer at this point, not even reacting to the fact I just said what I did.

I took my bag and bike helmet and went back to the girl in the reception, who was most surprised over what I told her. She apologised and wrote down a formal complaint on my behalf and saw to it that I got a new appointment for next week with our normal company doctor.

Mistakes happen, even when computerised schedules are involved, and my reason for being there wasn’t acute. The fact I had to reschedule was not the issue.

The thing I found most disturbing was the unwillingness to change to the language of the patient, the apparent annoyance over the fact I didn’t change language, and the complete lack of understanding even though I in my hand had my phone with an SMS-confirmation of my appointment.

One simple nice word would’ve turned the whole discussion the other way. But right now, I have nothing but a loathing feeling for Sari Valkama and Terveystalo – even though the girl in the reception was very kind and helpful, it was too late.

One doctor was all it took – I will not trust Terveystalo again.




  1. Mikko · · Reply

    Amazing! Stuff like this now happens in Catalonia too (using language as a weapon, I mean)

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