The call center is the heart of our daily work at Peach Tree Health. The staff serving our phone callers is the beginning of our service delivery and the start of our patient care experience. When designing the workspace layout for our Clinical Support Center and administration offices, I was very deliberate about a few key design ideas. I was very purposeful in placing our call center staff together in a group just outside my office door, as well as the offices of our Director of Operations and Medical Director. I wanted us all to hear our company’s business take place all day, to never be removed from those we serve and to better understand the true nature of our patients’ needs in real time.
Each day I learn more about my business from absorbing the voices of our clinical support center team as they negotiate an incredibly complex mix of needs from our callers than I ever do from spreadsheets and reports. It is both confirming and alarming to hear these one-sided phone conversations every day. I can hear where the patient volume is building, when the schedules are overfilling, which pharmacies struggle with our prescription orders, the frustration when we can’t connect a caller to someone who can best answer a question and when a patient is unraveling on the phone. The inbound calls are relentless and more variable in need than I had assumed. I love working next to our clinical support team, and I appreciate their contribution to our service now more than ever.
These amazing people taking and making Peach Tree’s calls are truly unsung heroes of our health center. They set up our daily work schedules by triaging an overly-complex set of provider scheduling rules and shifting clinic hours and scope of services. Each time they pick up a new call they need to be prepared to quickly shift into the role of social worker, air traffic control operator, patient navigator, insurance advisor, transportation coordinator or simply a caring voice on the phone with a desperately lonely and afraid individual reaching out for help. Too often they are on the phone with a caller wishing to commit suicide, actively being abused or crying uncontrollably. Theirs is a job requiring a bottomless well of compassion and patience that I can only aspire to have. They never raise their voice when being yelled at and they take the blame from callers for all of Peach Tree’s service failures with grace. If that isn’t heroic behavior, I don’t know what is.
I seemingly never get to talk with them as a group because they are always on the phone. When we meet up in the breakroom, I try to give them their quiet time to recover, reflect, tend to their cell phone and recharge before they put that headset on again and get back into the mix. So, I am taking this opportunity to publicly admire them and thank them for their service and contribution to our business. Bravo ladies! You are our heroes.