Fourth Street Clinic — Where the Wait is Worth It!

“Patient 16, please come to window number 1.”

The phones are ringing, two patients are discussing the pending weather, a woman in the corner is struggling with her mental health. The waiting room is full except for a few empty seats. Coughing, sneezing, snoring and wheezing are the background noises on this Friday morning. It’s all just a day in the life of the Fourth Street Clinic’s front desk team.

Natalie, the front desk team lead, sits at window 1, the first window patients see when they come to the waiting room. Natalie is an intake and eligibility specialist.  Her desk is colored by inspiring quotes, Post-it notes, pens, highlighters, papers and, on her screen, a long list of names.

Natalie waits for patient number 16 to come to the window. “English or Español?” She guides the patient through the check-in process, and he is visibly relieved to know he will get help soon. He goes back to his seat in the waiting room and Natalie calls the next patient.

The waiting room at Fourth Street Clinic can be a bit more high-energy, anxious and chaotic than other clinics because many patients are here without appointment and desperate to be seen by a medical professional. We asked Natalie a few questions:

What is your day-to-day like? In a nutshell, I do intake and eligibility processing. That includes registering new patients, check-ins for appointments, scheduling, rescheduling, and lots of paperwork and phone calls. Plus, there is the occasional “babysitting” for patients who are not very stable.

Why did you take this position?

… Every day I get to step outside of my normal little bubble. I like the idea of working with people who are outside of that bubble.

What are your customers like?

Oh wow, the spectrum is huge! We have some of the absolute best patients in the world. They are kind, patient, grateful and nice. We also have some of the hardest and most difficult patients. But, for the most part, the people I serve really deserve the services they receive and they are just so grateful.

What do you like best about your job?

I like how high-energy, crazy, funny and ever-changing it is. No other job in the world will ever be this zany. We have some pretty far-out patients that tend to present some outrageous — good and bad — situations. I also love seeing the progress our patients make — there are some really incredible people.

What do you like least about your job?

The high-energy, ever-changing atmosphere — the same reasons why I love my job! 

What advice would you give to someone new joining the team?

Always look for the good. The ugly can often be louder than the good, but it isn’t more prevailing. Our patients are brave, strong and kind. They change for the better every day and you will see miracles if you are looking for them.

What is your proudest accomplishment on the job?

Any time a patient makes it out. When someone is excited to tell me that they got housing or overcame addiction — that is the best! That makes me so proud!

At the heart of our community are people like Natalie and organizations like Fourth Street Clinic, which helps homeless Utahans improve their health and quality of life by providing high-quality health care and support services. Click here to follow the Heart of Our Community blog. Throughout April we will be sharing more stories about the caring staff of Fourth Street Clinic and some of the patients whose lives have been improved through their care.

It’s  people like Natalie that make our community great!

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