“Friend for life,” How a personal touch helps patients heal
by John McHenry
Shemeaner “Meme” Whitley, feels getting to know her clinic’s patients personally throughout their treatment process is essential to providing the best customer experience.
Whitley, a patient service associate for GI radiology at Duke University Hospital (DUH), engages patients in conversations to find out how they’re feeling and what she can do to help them. When needed, she provides encouragement and reassurance wherever possible.
“I try to build rapport with all of my patients,” said Whitley. “Patients want to feel that they are known and cared for as an individual, which is why I believe it is important to take the time to get to know them.”
Whitley’s patients enjoy her friendly demeanor so much that they’ve been known to come back to the clinic just to visit her.
“None of us is going to get through life without help,” said Whitley. “I have had patients tell me that my conversations helped them get through a very tough day, or that they consider me a ‘friend for life’. That means the world to me and lets me know how important it is to invest in patient relationships.”
“Meme is the epitome of living our values, and she is the ‘nerve center’ of our team,” said Anthony Twisdale, the GI and pediatric supervisor for radiology at DUH and the children’s health center. “She is always the first person to ask how she can help someone in need, whether it is a coworker or a patient.”
Whitley, who has worked at DUH for 21 years, says she loves her teammates and her ability to impact patients’ lives through her personal touch.
“I may one day be in the same position as one of our patients and that’s what inspires me to engage people in the way I do,” she said. “Taking the time to get to know patients and their anxieties, concerns and passions is always the right thing to do.”