Customer Service is Her Specialty
Patient Advocate and Guest Relations Officer Katherine Matos Helps Morrisania Health Center Improve Customer Satisfaction
Some people get their kicks riding roller coasters, bungee jumping, or driving fast cars. Katherine Matos, a guest relations officer at HHC’s Morrisania Diagnostic and Treatment Center, gets charged in a different way.
“I know it may be hard to believe but I actually get a thrill by helping people,” says the 27-year-old Bronx resident. “ I want to make sure they will return for care if they need it and make us their medical home.”
It’s a great thing that Matos finds joy in assisting others. She is the sole guest relations specialist in the center in Mott Haven, which serves thousands of children and adults and manages approximately 83,000 outpatient visits annually. In March, Ms. Matos received a 2013 Patient Safety Champion Award for her outstanding advocacy on behalf of patients.
“I believe it’s everyone’s role in the center to provide customer service—to go beyond the extra mile to ensure that our patients are safe and satisfied,” Matos said.
That’s exactly the kind of enthusiasm and dedication that Ms. Matos’ supervisor, Nenita Feld, says helps the neighborhood health center improve its patient satisfaction ratings.
After all, patients’ first encounter with healthcare is often in an ambulatory care setting like Morrisania. How patients are treated can influence their willingness to comply with medical advice, keep appointments, take their medications and work with their healthcare providers to keep themselves healthy and out of the hospital.”
“Katherine is a fierce patient advocate--she is energetic, vibrant and dynamic,” says Ms. Feld, who is director of regulatory affairs for HHC’s six diagnostic and treatment centers. She nominated Ms. Matos for the award.
As a guest relations strategist, Ms. Matos is charged with troubleshooting for any patient who comes to the center, which can be hundreds per day.
“Everyone usually needs more information or has an issue they need to resolve. I just walk around the facility and introduce myself to patients and let them know that I am here to help them,” she explains.
According to Ms. Matos, many patients can’t believe that she is there to advocate for them. One of the doubtful ones was a mother of two who had been trying to get a referral for her daughter for some time. Ms. Matos intervened and told the distressed mother that she would call her back in an hour. She says that the client shot her an incredulous glare and snapped, “Yeah, right.”
“When I called her back with her referrals within the hour, she was amazed,” explains Ms. Matos. A few days later, she received a thank-you card in the mail from the client -- a reminder that she keeps close to her desk.
Ms. Matos says she has always been passionate about helping others. As a teen, she volunteered as a peer counselor with the Hispanic AIDS Forum. She received her patient service training at HHC’s Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, a facility that, while busier than the clinic where she now works, prepared her well for her current position. Asked what she loves most about her job she says it’s the daily and constant interactions with people.
“There is never a dull moment,” she says.