A day in the life of a patient services specialist

Jun 2, 2015, 10:00 AM by Mary Ann Hellinghausen

Rosana1If you or a family member have ever been a UTMB patient, it’s likely you have interacted with a patient services specialist, or PSS as they call themselves.

And if you have been to the Orthopaedic Clinic at the Specialty Care Center in League City, you may have been greeted by a smiling Rosana Gomez.

Each day, the three patient services specialists working the desk in the Ortho Clinic check in as many as 120 patients, and those working in the phone bank may each handle more than 125 calls.

“It’s a very fast-paced clinic. When we turn those phones on at 8 o’clock, they immediately start ringing,’’ Gomez said. “If you’re able to multi-task, you’ve got this job squared away.’’

Gomez, who has worked for UTMB for 11 years, said building relationships with patients is what it’s all about. “I’ve been here so long that when some patients call me, I recognize their voice, and they recognize my voice,’’ she said. “That’s why I like it so much.’’

Rosana2She also enjoys getting to know the preferences of the 12 physicians who rotate through the clinic, treating everything from fractures to joint pain to tennis elbow to osteoporosis. “You get to know what each doctor likes, such as whether he prefers to see his new patients in the mornings,’’ she said. “All of these doctors really care – they go out of their way to give our patients what they need. I’ve seen some even give patients their cell phone numbers.’’

And some physicians have such renowned reputations that patients come from around the world to see them. Dr. David Yngve, chief of pediatric orthopaedics at UTMB, specializes in pediatric spinal conditions such as scoliosis and cerebral palsy. Helping to coordinate his international patients is another fun part of her job, Gomez said.

"I've seen parents bring their children from Australia, England, even Africa, to see him. They fly in, have an appointment on a Thursday and schedule surgery on Friday. It’s amazing to see the impact UTMB doctors have," she said. "My job is to get these patients in as soon as possible to take care of their health — to make it work for our patients. That’s important to me."

Gomez said she also enjoys the camaraderie of her colleagues, many of whomRosana3 she has worked with throughout her UTMB career. As a team leader, she tries to be a positive role model and support strong communication among her team members. "We're all good friends here," she said. "We help each other out."

Things are especially hectic in the Ortho Clinic area with on-going construction for the new League City hospital that is opening this fall. And at 6 p.m. each night, the Ortho Clinic transforms into Urgent Care space. But it all seems to flow smoothly, Gomez said.

“The construction has gone faster than expected, and our patients are OK with it. They all know what’s going on, and they’re excited about the new hospital,’’ she said.

Meanwhile, it’s time to stop chatting as another one of those 120 patients walks up to the desk to check in. “How can I help you, sir?’’ And there’s that beautiful smile again!