The first thing one will notice about Nash UNC Health Care patient access representative Mary Davis is her kind smile.
The first thing she tries to take note of upon meeting you is how she can help you.
In the Nash UNC Emergency Department, patients are checked in upon entering with a short and basic round of questions. Once a patient is in the triage area, patient access representatives like Davis will take the time to get more information from patients like insurance information and primary physician information.
But Davis says she typically gleans much more than insurance information from patients.
“I am a people person and make connections with people while I’m doing my official duties,” Davis said. “While I’m gathering information, I can tell if someone is panicky or scared, and I try to help them with that. Just some kind words or a pat on the arm. And if I notice they need immediate medical assistance, I certainly go get help.”
Mary recently came to the aid of a patient who came into the waiting room — but didn’t check in.
“I saw him come in, but he didn’t come to the front desk. He went over towards the waiting area. He didn’t look well, so I went over to check on him,” Mary remembered.
Mary said when she went over to check on the patient, he told her he just needed to sit down for a moment and that he didn’t feel well.
“I think he wanted me to leave him alone,” Davis said.
She felt an urgency to help him and didn’t think he should “just rest for a minute.”
“I suggested we speed things up and get him checked in so he could see a doctor — so we started doing that. And then he told me he was having chest pains and he was sweating a lot,” Davis said.
Davis quickly got a nurse to get the patient to a treatment room and begin medical treatment.
“I didn’t do anything that any of my co-workers wouldn’t have done,” Mary insisted. “We all think like that — ‘what can we do to help someone.’ It’s what we’re all about.”
Davis’ supervisor Wanda Myers said if Davis hadn’t persisted in helping that patient, things could have been much worse. The patient was later determined to have a major artery blockage, was sent to the catheter lab and later admitted to the hospital.
“Mary’s diligence in taking care of our patients is impressive,” Myers said. “She always stays calm, stays focused and is easy going. I find her to be very kind-hearted toward all of our patients and she just naturally treats everyone with compassion.”
Myers said Davis personifies Carolina Care, an interdisciplinary set of core behaviors and actions that are designed to provide a consistent, caring and highly positive patient, family and staff experience at Nash UNC Health Care.
Nash UNC Health Care employees are trained to use Carolina Care in all interactions.
Other employees have spoken up about Davis’ superlative compassion. One employee, Rich Jared, an employee wellness supervisor, said he’s seen Davis in action when one of his family-members was a patient in the emergency department.
Jared said Mary and other emergency department employees did an amazing job taking care of the patient — and the family.
“Thank you to Juanita, Mary and Lorrie for showing great Carolina Care behaviors while rounding in the waiting room, updating family, offering warm blankets and so much more,” Jared said. “The reassurance of the entire team took some stress off our family during his visit."
Davis said she thrives at work and feels lucky she loves her job as much as she does.
“It’s what I like to do — work with people and have a small part in making things better for them,” she said. “I really like the Carolina Care culture we have at Nash. It makes a difference, I think, to be so intentional about being empathetic and kind.”
While Davis thinks many health care industry employees are “naturally” compassionate, she notes the organizational culture of Carolina Care at Nash UNC amplifies the standard of care expected in a healthcare setting.
“It starts at the top. When you see and hear our executives, our managers treating us with Carolina Care — with care and compassion — it’s contagious. It trickles down,” Davis said. “And this can be applied anywhere. Pretty soon, you all feel like family, like a team.”