When patients visit the Marion-Louise Saltzman Women’s Center at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, one of the many friendly faces they see while checking in is that of health unit coordinator La Shawn Ford. In at least one way in particular, Ford is especially memorable. On any given day, Ford is a symphony in purple: Purple scrubs. Purple eye shadow. Purple nails. Purple lipstick.
Check out the Einstein Healthcare Network logo and you’ll see that purple is our color, too. For Ford, though, wearing purple is mostly a becoming fashion statement. “I like purple,” she concedes. “That’s one of my favorite colors, so I wear it all the time.”
Ford has been a Women’s Center staff member for four years. Her efforts to liven up an otherwise unvarying set of hospital scrubs is all tied into her cheerful, welcoming personality. When women arrive for their mammograms, Ford says, she knows that they might be a bit anxious, so a playful splash of color helps patients feel a bit more at ease, and might even evoke a little smile.
Of course, there’s more to Ford’s approach than colorful cosmetics. “I love to listen and I love to talk,” says Ford, of Northeast Philadelphia, who has an associate’s degree in psychology and is hoping to pursue a bachelor’s degree. “I’m a people person.”
It’s important to Ford that Women’s Center patients be treated with dignity and respect. “It’s what I would want, so that’s what I try to do for others. I want to be able to be a support for people, to help them find what they need and to show compassion. I’ve laughed and cried with patients. I try to make them feel more joyful.”
Sharen Vorn-Bullock is Ford’s office manager. She says all Women’s Center employees go the extra mile to make sure patients have a good experience. Ford’s welcoming personality speaks well to the kind of caring approach all Women’s Center employees try to apply in their day-to-day work.
Vorn-Bullock agrees with Ford that, for patients, getting a mammogram can cause a bit of trepidation. “Our patients who come here are nervous,” she says. All employees recognize this, she says, and respond to patient needs in an open, helpful manner. “I have a good staff, both clerical and technical. Although we see over a hundred patients a day, we try to keep the same level of customer service.”
Still, Vorn-Bullock agrees, Ford’s colorful personality leaves a lasting impression on patients. “She’s a fun person. She’s a very happy kind of person and it reflects on what she does.”