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NMCCL Stories

News | Dec. 10, 2021

We are NMCCL: Communication Center – “The Heart of the Medical Center”

Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune’s Communication Center works similar to a human heart. Like a heart pumps blood to the rest of the body, employees of the Communication Center say they help pump information to the rest of the medical treatment facility.

The main purpose of the center is establishing a centralized department responsible for collecting and relaying information to help expedite response efforts during an emergency. One of the task after receiving a call is to initiate the proper notification system. This can include phoning, paging or making an announcement over the intercom system throughout the medical center.

“We are known as the ‘heart of the Medical Center,’” states Tesina Barrett, a three-year employee of the center. “You have seconds between life and death to call in a code, to be able to respond quickly, and get it right.”

The Communication Center is staffed with nine employees, and is open 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year including weekends and holidays.

Employees monitor more than just phones; they keep watch over a variety of systems throughout the main medical center as well as in other buildings owned by NMCCL across the installation.

“This job is very unique,” says Melissa Warren, supervisor. “You will not find many jobs anywhere like this one. Every moment is different and there is a crazy amount of information you have to know and learn as an employee.”

Communication Center employees monitor refrigeration units, heating and cooling systems, medical equipment and patient monitoring systems. Should any of those systems fluctuate or malfunction the team activates the notification system.

The employees are knowledgeable on protocols for emergency situations such as hazardous material spills, active shooter, and fires to name a few.
According to Warren, these protocols are constantly changing, and her staff has to be proficient at keeping up with those changes and to know how to prioritize properly.

“You have to have people who care and, especially, people who are willing and eager to learn,” Warren states. “You have to know how to gauge and ask questions, to make sure the proper information is being relayed, and people are being notified properly and quickly.”

There is a breadth of experienced employees at the center ranging from just hired to 27 years. This is helpful as training a new employee can last anywhere from 6 months to a year.

“My favorite part of this job is the uncertainty of not knowing what is on the other end of the phone,” said Michael Cordoza, who has been employed at the center for 15 years. “The phone call could be something simple, or an EMS emergency. We constantly have to stay up on code SOPs [standard operating procedures] and notification processes. It’s a lot of fun; everything is constantly changing.”

The center’s employees know they are a vital part of the medical center, and they want other staff members to know they are available to answer questions and to help.

“A lot of other staff here at the medical center don’t know what we do on the back end,” Barrett expressed. “We are communicators, and we help the hospital run as smoothly as possible.”

If you are a patient or staff member and experience an emergent situation while at the main medical center, please dial 910-450-4911 or 450-4911 directly from a phone within the center. For all branch clinics and NMCCL properties on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, please call 911 in the event of an emergency.

The “We are NMCCL” initiative highlights the accomplishments of employees, clinics and offices of Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune.
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