From Point A to Point B: Where the Healthcare Patient Experience Begins

Published Tuesday, August 21, 2018 at 9:22 am

Wendy Martin works behind the scenes to ensure that every hospital and outpatient facility in the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is well equipped to provide quality medical care for her patients.

By Josh Jarman

Do you ever stop to think about what goes into your purchasing decisions? For most of us, many factors work together to help us decide on a product. At the speed of scrolling, we like to investigate everything, but we often don’t stop to consider how a company’s supply chain works before we purchase a cup of coffee, a new car or even our healthcare services.

Wendy Martin, a materials management professional at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), works behind the scenes to ensure that every hospital and outpatient facility in the healthcare system is well equipped to provide a great product—quality medical care—for her patients.

Cornbread and Determination

Wendy Martin was born and raised in the sleepy mountain town of Zionville, NC. It was there that she learned how to ride a motorcycle, bake cat head biscuits and work with her hands to fix just about anything.

“Dad was a carpenter, and he taught me that with the right amount of determination and elbow grease you can accomplish anything,” she said with a smile. “My mom, on the other hand, worked long hours in a factory, but she was never too tired to tuck us in at night.”

Wendy’s favorite childhood memory took place every Sunday afternoon at her grandmother’s house. “We would all squeeze into the kitchen to help prepare dinner,” she said. “Every meal would include coffee, pinto beans, cornbread, fried chicken and my grandmother’s famous chocolate cake with extra sprinkles. Between bites we would all share what we had learned from the previous week and encourage each other for the days ahead.”

After high school, Wendy was hired as a seasonal gift wrapper at Belk in Boone. “I guess I was pretty good at wrapping gifts,” she joked, “because I ended up working there for 11 years, 8 of which as a display manager. Looking back, that experience helped to prepare me for the work I do today at the hospital.”

Soles of Influence

Wendy was hired as a storeroom assistant at Watauga Medical Center 11 years ago this August. Some mornings, she arrives at the hospital’s loading dock around 6:15 a.m. to greet and unload medical supply trucks. Each week the materials management team receives and delivers 25-30 pallets of medical supplies across all of the ARHS hospital and outpatient facilities.

“The patient experience starts with our department,” she said. “Whether it’s a toothbrush or a new piece of equipment for the operating room, making sure that the right supplies are available when our patients need them is our top priority.”

The nine-member materials management team proudly works behind the scenes seven days a week and through all types of inclement weather to get the job done. “I walk close to 10 miles a day delivering supplies,” she said with a grin. “You would be shocked to see how many pairs of sneakers I have in my closet!”

The tennis shoe clinician is also known for her willingness to fulfill special requests from patients. “Occasionally, a patient will ask me for a certain type of shampoo or for some other type of convenience product,” she said. “If we don’t have the product in the storeroom, the department often goes to Walmart to purchase the item.”

Wendy considers Watauga Medical Center to be her “home away from home,” and she takes great pride in making sure that every patient feels comfortable during their stay. “I was born here, my daughter was born here and most of my family has worked here at some point in time,” she said. “I’m proud to do what I can to give back.”

Scrubbing In

After working in the medical field and observing patient care for many years, Wendy recently decided that she wanted to learn how to start caring for patients in addition to her role in materials management.

“Initially, the thought of going back to school while working full-time seemed daunting,” she said. “But the healthcare system was very supportive. And I came to look forward to my family’s weekly dose of encouragement at our Sunday afternoon meals.”

Last month, she graduated from night school with her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license. Eager to contribute in new ways, she hopes to start working a few days each week as a CNA in addition to her job in materials management. Her next goal is to pursue her phlebotomy license and then to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).

Wendy beamed with pride as she shared, “My 4-year-old daughter recently told me that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. I want to be someone that she can look up to in life. Someone that can encourage her and maybe even help her study along the way.”

We consider Wendy Martin to be a difference maker at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. Someone we all look up to. Someone we can all learn from.

To learn more about the various career opportunities at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, search for jobs, or contact a recruiter, visit apphrs.org/careers.

 

 

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