I’m Thankful For… by Marianne Khouri

Every Thanksgiving, my mom has our family sit around the kitchen table and share what we are thankful for. All of our speeches are some variation of being grateful for family, friends, and health. But this year, I had to share my gratitude for National Health Corps and the experiences that I am gaining through my service term at the Health Annex. You may have many thoughts at this point, like “it’s too early to start reflecting on your service term, save that for mid-July when your term is over.” Or possibly, “ugh, not another appreciation post for NHC, I’m sick of those.” And yes, those thoughts are valid, but allow me to be thankful for NHC by dedicating the rest of my 300- 500 words to the front desk staff at the Health Annex, my personal superheroes.

Part of my work as the Health and Benefits Advocate at the Health Annex is to screen uninsured patients for healthcare eligibility. In order to do this, I sit at the front desk next to the Patient Service Representatives (PSRs) and meet uninsured patients as soon as they check-in for their appointments. Through my time at the front desk, I have really come to admire the work of the Patient Service Representatives. They are at the front line of the clinic and extremely crucial to the care of the patients. I’ve seen our staff juggle multiple patients and tasks at one time, handle angry patients with class, and cradle the newborn babies of longtime patients. I had no idea how integral the PSRs were—to the physical functioning of the clinic and also to the community that the clinic creates. Patients will come into the clinic asking for the PSRs by name and the PSRs not only remember them, but also remember their kids, relatives, and pets. Okay, maybe not pets, but you understand the idea. I’ve seen the Nurse Practitioners ask the front desk staff to identify their own patients or remind them of a patient’s family situation. I’ve also watched the front desk staff rally behind a longtime patient who was going through a difficult time. They lined up to speak with the patient and offered words and hugs of support.

Of course, part of my appreciation for the front desk staff is selfish; they are an essential component of my support system at the Health Annex. They make me laugh, especially when they tease each other and burst into song after the last patient of the day is checked in. They also act like my extra set of mothers, lovingly scolding me when I come to work with my hair wet and declaring that I will catch a cold. They support me when I am having a stressful day and show me how to fax documents to the County Assistance Office every time I forget how, which is at least once a week.

Thank you front desk staff for all that you do for the patients and staff and for making the Health Annex feel like home to those who enter. I’m very thankful for you.