On hold

By Sarah RaparoliLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Long waiting times seem to be increasing in the health sector. Not least, mammography appointments have caused discussion. Three women report on their experiences, a gynaecologist gives a glimpse behind the scenes.

"You can call me Milla", our counterpart introduces herself. She smiles and takes a folder out of her bag. "I have noted down everything important and brought some documents with me." Like many others, Milla has difficulty getting an early appointment for a mammogram. "Before we get to the actual topic, I have to elaborate", says the 58-year-old. "I received a new kidney in 2010. With that transplant comes close follow-up." She says she has to have various examinations every year, "because the medication I have to take because of the transplant can cause side effects". In addition to checking her kidneys and heart, this aftercare includes regular mammograms. In addition, a lump was discovered in her breast five to six years ago. "The biopsy was clear, but of course I still have to go for check-ups."

She says she has fallen behind anyway because of Covid-19, "that was my own fault. My husband and I had contracted Covid-19 … and then I let it slide". She flips through her documents. Last April, she says, she received her invitation under the National Breast Cancer Screening Programme. The Mammography Programme (PM) is aimed at all 50 to 70 year olds (category of high-risk patients). Every year, around 30,000 people are contacted and advised to have a mammography every two years. Milla wanted to follow this recommendation after she and her husband had recovered. "Once the reminder letter arrived, I immediately took care of it. And that's when the whole odyssey began", she recalls.

Because her past mammograms were performed at the Kirchberg hospital, she had wanted to continue to be treated there. "It was impossible to get through on the phone. I was constantly on hold. I then emailed to ask for an appointment." She hands us a printed message, because after submitting her matriculation number, she had received an automated response: "After we have checked your application, we will contact you as soon as possible (due to the large number of applications, this can take several days)", one can read on the said email. That was on September 15th. By the time of our conversation, which took place more than two months later, no one had contacted her.

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