Spotlight on Nelnora Johnson
Most often when a parent dials the main phone number at Cook Children's, they are doing so at a point when life isn't going perfectly. Call Center Representative Nelnora Johnson recognizes this and knows she and her fellow call center representatives must be the calm in the storm the family is living through.
"In order to do this job effectively, you have to have a healthy amount of understanding," Nelnora said. "We must all listen actively and respond compassionately."
And this is the one universal approach they can take because not all situations will be the same. She likens it to a fairly common guessing game.
"When talking to parents, they won't always know what to say or what to ask for; so we have to play 20 questions," she explained with a smile. "Even though they may already be slightly frustrated or anxious in that initial conversation, we have a responsibility to educate them and get them to the right place they need to go or to person they need to talk to. Being that solution and making that connection for them is so very rewarding to me."
Taking a moment to think about it, Nelnora acknowledges there is another part of the equation that can added to being an active and compassionate listener. "We have to stay neutral on the phone," she continued. "Despite any frustration, I don't take it personally. They are frustrated with the situation and not me."
That's when she gets to shine. Those harried parents will assuredly leave a call with Nelnora with a sense of peace and confidence that they are being guided in the right direction with the right information.
With a pleasant, reassuring demeanor and a soothing, disarming tone in her voice, Nelnora is a natural to fill this role and answer such a calling, if you will. That's likely why Call Center Manager Patty Schulz described Nelnora as "our superstar, who is wonderful and charming."
Despite being a long-time resident of Fort Worth and a University of North Texas alum, Nelnora didn't have much exposure to Cook Children's. What brought her to our doorstep eight years ago was the same likely path so many take in their job hunt: responding to an online job posting and applying because she met the qualifications.
But now with three boys, who are patients all across a variety of clinics (both specialty and primary), she knows the ins-and-outs of the system and she wouldn't trade these years of positive and enriching experiences here. In fact, the perspective of being both a Cook Children's parent and employee is indeed an asset to her job.
"I know what many of our parents are going through, which means I can easily put myself in their shoes to better help them," she said. "And when I'm on the side of the bed as a mom, it allows me to think about those caring for my child, be mindful of what they are going through and how emotionally invested they are in their patients."
Nelnora is quick to point out that such emotional investment and commitment to our patients and families is what sets Cook Children's apart from others.
"Your child is not a number here," she explained. "From my own experience, the clinic staff and doctors recognize that these are children and individuals. They may see thousands of kids, but they never make it feel like they are just a number. They make each patient feel recognized and special. That's an amazing feeling for both the child and the parents."
Thankfully, this level of care and attentiveness is not isolated to the clinics, and Nelnora is a prime example of this. When we all have an open mind and embrace a willingness to view people for who they are and listen to what they are going through, like she does, it's easy for us to all proudly say #WeAreCookChildrens.