CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina –
The first interaction for most patients of Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune is not commonly with a nurse or doctor, it’s with a person on the other end of the phone.
The 14 employees of the Call Center are often the very first encounter the beneficiary has with the medical center. One Call Center employee can average around 80 calls during their shift.
“The main goal of the Call Center is to help patients get appointments with their providers,” explains Mary Rowe, supervisor of the Call Center. “We have other numerous responsibilities to include booking referrals, putting in messages with providers about medication refills or other concerns. We are the first person they talk to when they call, and it is up to us to listen and determine where they need to be sent in terms of care.”
The Call Center is responsible for scheduling appointments for various procedures in approximately 25 different clinics and departments at NMCCL. Training for Call Center employees can be extensive and take anywhere from one month to three months depending on the person.
“No clinic books [schedules appointments] the same way, so this can be challenging on the employee; however, all of the employees strive to help the patient. Helping the patient is our mission,” states Rowe. “When people hang up the phone, we want them to feel they got the best assistance they could ask for.”
Like many other departments, Rowe explains that the COVID-19 pandemic has created some unique challenges for the Call Center.
“It has been stressful with COVID; we get a lot of unhappy people. Not only are they sick, but we can’t help them the way they would want us to help them, so that can be stressful on everybody. We are still following the [COVID safety] policies, and those can be difficult for people to understand. However, the employees are very empathetic, and they have done a great job helping patients.”
Empathy plays a heavy role in working in the Call Center. “We are always here to help –always. No matter what, we are striving to assist [beneficiaries], whenever we can, we are here for them,” said Kristie Sellers, who has been an employee of the Call Center since August 2019.
Part of what inspires the Call Center to keep doing what they do, is what they call a “close-knit team” of workers.
“One of the best things about my job is I feel like I can always depend on my coworkers,” Sellers says. “We know we can depend on each other, and circumstances change every single call. It is nice to have a wide variety of people with different experiences. It’s all about trying to help the beneficiary and their families get to where they need to be.”
The NMCCL Call Center can be reached by calling 910-450-HELP (4357) Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The “We are NMCCL” initiative highlights the accomplishments of employees, clinics and offices of Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune. “We are NMCCL” has focused on those who have been working around-the-clock and behind the frontlines to ensure our patients and personnel are cared for during the COVID-19 pandemic.