Maziah Fnq
map-marker San Diego, California

Re: West Dermatology: Lisa Zaleski-Larsen, medical assistants: Remy, Lauren, receptionists: Malik, Monique, Irene, et al.

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Updated by user Oct 11, 2017

So many dermatologists/cosmetic enhancement centers in SoCal, go anywhere but here! I'd go to MX before I'd go here. I have, and they are nicer and so much better.

Original review Oct 08, 2017
My nightmare with West Dermatology started on July 20 when I thought I was being seen for an inexplicable divot in my backside. Lauren, the nurse, hands me a paper cover and instructs me to completely undress and wait. Lisa Zaleski-Larsen comes in and immediately gives me a full-on exam for skin cancer. Umm, I never asked for that. Not when making the appointment nor any other time. Eventually I get a chance to speak and state the actual purpose of my visit, at which point she begins rambling off the possible causes of a divot, in order to follow along with her I have to blurt out: I need to write this down or need you to talk slower. "Oh, you'll get literature when we’re through” she replies. I didn't get a thing from anyone upon my departure other than an appointment for a biopsy. Three weeks later on August 16 I had the biopsy, in and out, no instructions unless I asked for them. I’ve already learned everything Zaleski-Larsen does is on overdrive so I hardly expect her to spend more than a few minutes in the room with me and I was right. I’m told I’ll get a call in about 2-3 weeks with the results, which seems an excessive amount of time for biopsy results, but no, that’s average according to Lauren. No issue that night but the next day the site was red, hard, swollen, burning hot and extremely painful. I call the office and they tell me to go in the following day, August 18. I waited an hour, asked how much longer: “well you’re next.” Yeah, I should think so, I was the only one there. Same assistant as before, Lauren, who still can’t pronounce my name to save her life finally appears and calls out her grandmother’s name. I don’t respond to a name that’s not mine. Eventually she realizes her mistake and says, “oh that’s how my grandmother’s name was pronounced because she’s Swedish.” Well, let’s see… we’re in CA, I’m not your grandmother nor am I Swedish, so sure, go with what makes sense only to you. I follow her into the room and she asks: “you’re here for suture removal?” WTH? I had to tell her, NO, you guys had me come in to check to see why I’m in so much pain, the sutures are supposed to remain in for two weeks, you know, 12 days from now? And she was there during the biopsy just two earlier. How is it possible I’m the only one who knows what’s going on? Lauren tells me I’ve got an infection that was no fault of my own and that I didn’t do anything wrong… as if I thought otherwise. I ask for pain meds to no avail. They did this to me and now I’m in excruciating pain. Don’t help to relieve it, lie to me instead. She prescribes antibiotics and claims they will make me feel better, yet they didn’t all the while on them. She did a culture during the visit to determine what the best course of antibiotics would be, but my calls for results were never returned and according to my GP a swab with a cotton stick is hardly conclusive. On my way out I asked the receptionist could they please just give me something for the severe pain? She walks off, comes back and tells me okay, we called something into your pharmacy. I limp there and they say, no, nothing was called in but the antibiotics. For days I left messages with reception for the swab results, provided I could wait on hold indefinitely, but never heard back from anyone. The nurses’ outgoing message literally says the mailbox is full and one cannot leave a message. They later insisted they returned my calls, but all I could conclude was they called me twice but didn’t leave a voicemail-the calls were both 12 seconds. I decided to go to my GP whom I trust implicitly. It had been a week but the pain and swelling were not subsiding and even walking hurt a great deal. He was more than willing to help me. He felt due to the infection and severe pain that medication was definitely warranted. That was the first night I had any relief or sleep. From there on he took over treatment of the biopsy site. He determined that the sutures should be removed two days earlier than Zaleski-Larsen had scheduled. As soon as the sutures were out the pain subsided by at least 80%. My body was reacting to the sutures and it most likely caused the infection, swelling, discomfort and all other symptoms. I waited three weeks for staff at West Dermatology to call with results of the biopsy but no one ever called. Yet again, the mailbox for the medical assistants’ was always full. By this point I’d read their Yelp reviews and decided in order to get results I’d call reception and ask to speak to the office manager. My advice for anyone who chooses this practice and has any trouble reaching the assistants, etc., is to ask to speak to Erica, the office manager, you’ll get a nurse on the line immediately because it scares the bejesus out of them. In minutes Darcy picks up and this is when I’m told they were calling me back but couldn’t leave messages, etc. All I can say to that is I was anxiously waiting for test results that could have had serious and adverse effects on my health so to not take their calls would be nonsensical. Darcy reads me my results and while she admitted she had no idea what they meant, I was able to conclude it was the most benign of the three possibilities. I’ve been seen by two doctors there in the last two years. Historically I felt I was dismissed and received inferior treatment while the doctors and staff exhibited outright disrespect towards me because it’s what they do. In addition, I have MediCal with an HMO so they are reimbursed less to treat me. I don’t get to decide who I’m referred to when my GP orders a referral. I’d been told that should it be a divot caused by an injection Zaleski-Larsen planned to treat it by injecting saline into the site to fill the indentation. With that knowledge I decided to return there for the treatment since I was referred back to them. Not surprising, as soon as the office got the referral they called my alleged non-working number on September 18 with zero effort and scheduled an appointment for September 26. I had mixed feelings about returning and asked to speak to someone regarding my appointment and treatment in order to ascertain whether or not my insurance would even pay for the procedure. I wanted to find out if returning there would be beneficial or an utter waste of time. I was passed to someone named Remy, and Remy is why I decided to report my horrific experiences to Yelp. I conveyed my concerns to Remy, she assured me she’d speak to the doctor and call me back the next day. True to form she didn't keep her word, not the next day or the eight days leading up to my appointment. I arrive on time hopeful that at least one visit with this practice will go well. About twenty minutes later someone calls me up to the front and asks if my dog is a service dog. I politely say yes and offer to show her proof confirming it. She takes it and copies it then I sit back down to wait. In an instant I’m blindsided by two employees who ambush me and start giving me ultimatums. One was refusing to let my service dog in with me because someone in an exam room was allergic to dogs and therefore I was ordered to leave her in the manager’s office. Any disabled individual who relies on a service dog can attest to the fact such a request is unconscionable. The more insistent she becomes the more my anxiety mounts which is precisely the worst possible time to separate me from my dog. It’s surreal, no matter how many compromises I offer up to not have to part from her she adamantly rejects them. As this is all going on I’m simultaneously being prodded by yet another rude individual demanding I go into the room immediately or they’d cancel my appointment. At that point I asked to speak to Remy because if she’d called me back as she said she would I wouldn’t have had to go through that horror. The ill-tempered prodding nurse snaps: “I’ll give you 5 minutes!” Still, they made me leave my dog in the manager’s office just to speak to Remy who was nowhere near the exam rooms. None of their actions were logical or necessary. I should have been left in the waiting room while Remy rectified her mistake. I could have waited for the allergic patient to leave, anything would have been better than the way they terrorized me. Remy is immediately annoyed and crass, she also had the ability to heighten my anxiety level and with her in the equation it felt as if she’d sat on my chest. She’s treating me as if I’m ***, she briskly gets up and leads me to a room for no apparent reason. She leaves me there and when she returns she has obviously just spoken to the doctor finally after eight days. She literally tells me that according to Zaleski-Larsen there was a chance that if I was given an injection the divot could return so they weren’t going to treat me, nor would Zaleski-Larsen be seeing me. No mention about whether or not it was even covered by my insurance, which had been my sole question September 18 yet still left unanswered by Remy. The only thing I said after all their mind-numbing incompetence was: “that’s going in my Yelp review.” Remy was incensed and shrieked: “it’s already written?!” She turned to lead me back to my dog at last, I knew I’d start calming down once I was with her. We get to the door, same one I was lead through earlier and she stops abruptly. Now, this is a big person, I mean amazon big; tall, strong, aggressive and large. She stops suddenly and won’t let me go through, I’m still reeling in panic mode and these savages are denying me my service dog. She spouts some swill about me forbidden from entering the room if Erica was on the phone. I was just in there while Erica was on the phone! Remy is displaying scary and serious issues with rage. I just want and need my dog, I’m thinking: this is insane, I should just call the police. I know she has no right to withhold my dog so I reach past her body that’s barricading the door for the door handle when she slams her arm against the door and pushes me back. I said: “I’m not going to touch you! You’re two times my size!” Her vicious tendencies have me ready to cower but these monsters have my dog. Remy goes in and I wait until I am permitted to get her. Once in the office I ask if Remy the bouncer was leaving because she needs to be far away from me. I decide to tell Erica how vile my treatment there has been, how inept the staff is, and most significantly relay my absolute shock in Remy’s appalling bullying behavior. Erica is in the unenviable position of having her hands and mouth bound by an NDA, assuming the practice wants to keep operating. She is never going to agree with complainants because doing so would cost Erica her job. During our conversation the coverage of the injection was discussed and I found it informative that her recollection of events was contradictory to everything Remy had stated. My inclination is to infer Remy never had any intention of communicating my concern to Zaleski-Larsen, and when I called her on it she demeaned me for her ineptitude. In Erica’s defense when I reiterated all that had happened unnecessarily, and that all Remy had to do was her job: to keep her word and call me back with an answer, all the stress and hostility would have been avoided. Erica agreed in a noncommittal way that indeed it would have been the right thing for Remy to do. I feel it’s the very least she SHOULD have done and while I know she’ll never own it, that brute owes me one colossal mea culpa. West Dermatology: if you ever want your reputation to improve before you’re swallowed up by your self-created sinkhole practice, seriously people, hire a PR firm and nurses who know the difference between empathy and apathy.
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  • Behavior
Reason of review:
Poor customer service

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