Marla tries to be the pleasant, caring, and helpful voice on the other end of the phone for patients.
“When patients contact UPMC, my voice is often the first voice they hear,” says Marla, a radiology scheduler. “Patients call, and I set the tone for what they should be able to expect from the beginning of that first call through when they check out of their appointment. I hope that when people call, they have that friendly and approachable experience with everyone who answers the phone.”
Marla helps patients schedule women’s imaging and CT scans across the system, as well as cardiac imaging for UPMC East. It’s a job that can come with good calls and bad calls.
“Doing this job, you have the, ‘Congratulations, you’re having a baby’ moments and those wonderful life experiences,” she says. “But then you get the woman who just found a lump in her breast, and she is scared, upset, and doesn’t know what’s going to happen now. But she has me, and I have a way of putting people at ease so they know it’s going to be OK.
“There are times that I just want to cry. In that 10 minutes, you get so emotionally invested, and you just pray that they’re OK.”
Marla is known to go the extra mile for patients who have an especially challenging journey ahead of them. She’s a steady source of comfort for them, helping to make their long list of appointments as easy as possible.
Marla says that a difficult part of the job is not knowing how things turn out for some patients who are struggling. But she finds comfort in knowing she did everything she could for them. She also finds joy in talking to an expecting mother scheduling her first sonogram, then getting to talk to her again for her 20-week anatomy scan.
A centralized telephone command center and enhancements to the phone tree have helped patient call experiences, Marla says. The changes have helped make the process smoother.
Although she works remotely, she has developed a good relationship with her colleagues.
“It’s like an extended family you never see, but you know you have them when you need them,” Marla says.
But above all, she hopes to build a good relationship with patients.
“When I speak with patients, I just hope that they feel this will be a good experience for them throughout their journey, whether it’s a routine mammogram or if there is a problem they will continually need our help scheduling for,” she says.
At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means being there for whatever people need.