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The First Faces You See at North Valley Hospital

“Our job is as greeter, but so many other things,” says Carrie Gregorio, patient access manager at North Valley Hospital. “We want to make people feel three things: 1. Welcomed 2. Understood 3. Confident. That is our job.”

Gregorio oversees patient access at North Valley Hospital, which means that her employees are the faces you see when you walk in the door. But, she explains, there’s a lot more to it than just saying hello. “We want to get all the intake information correct at the beginning, because that makes the entire patient experience flow more smoothly.”

Gregorio started at North Valley Hospital 26 years ago as a Certified Nursing Assistant. She has been in patient access at the hospital for 22 years, and a manager for 12 years. She has seen a lot, and “I love coming to work everyday. I just think it’s an incredible place to work.”

She says, “Our staff will show how much they care and provide the personal attention our patients need when they are at their most vulnerable. Also, we do ask a lot of questions because we want to get all the right information the first time, so that the patient information is accurate, the billing goes smoothly, and the patient doesn’t have problems with the business side. We know it’s a confusing system, so we do our absolute best to be helpful, welcoming and accurate.”

“I have empathetic employees that have a kind voice, a caring attitude, and a positivity about them. Our patients are people, and we work to know them, and make sure they are seen and heard. We are passionate about being the first caregivers our patients interact with,” says Gregorio.

“When people come to the hospital, they are often hurting or scared, so I want to make our patients feel comfortable – that’s how I would want to be treated when I arrived at the hospital,” says Louella Sletten, patient access assistant at North Valley Hospital who is one of Gregorio’s employees. “I definitely believe that we treat people the way we would want to be treated.”

Sletten has been a member of the patient access team for almost two years, a job she enjoys for working closely with people. Many on the patient access team say the same aspect of the job is a draw, and something they appreciate the most about the work. The team is made up of 15 members on various shifts that start as early as 6am for day shift, with some employees covering the emergency room check in 24 hours a day.

It can be a challenge working late hours at patient access in the emergency room, with a more solitary workplace and high volumes of patients in the late hours. Still, the team prioritizes welcoming patients and managing each situation with care and good communication.

Sletten acknowledges that every patient is facing a different situation, so she makes a point to be compassionate to each person. “No one knows what other people are going through, and it’s our job as the patient access team to start the patient experience off on a positive note,” she says.

Gregorio knows the patient support that her team provides, and sees it as a critical role in the hospital but also the community. Gregorio says, “North Valley Hospital really helps our community. I’ve seen our staff work very hard to make sure that patients have the help and understanding they need. We are so proud to support our community and be the first faces people see at the hospital.”

Written by Allison Linville
Originally printed in January 2019 Montana Woman Magazine.