Health care professionals have many roles, but behind the scenes, helping patients one-on-one are medical assistants like Aerla McCoy.
McCoy says her role in health care, at the Mercy Health Tracks Pediatric Clinic, is a lot like “the lubrication that keeps the machine running smoothly.”
“The physicians and nurses I work with are truly the powerhouses when it comes to patient diagnostics,” she says. “I perform the hands on tasks. I fill in the gaps. I’m that friendly smile that welcomes patients into our office when they’re anxious.”
McCoy has been a patient many times herself, she says. She’s overcome multiple medical conditions and is still living with some, which has given her the motivation to make patients feel cared for in her service.
“I’ve been in their shoes, and I am here to make the patient experience the most amazing one possible,” she says. “When you’re not feeling well, a happy smiling face makes all the difference.”
McCoy knows what it’s like to be a long-term patient, as she was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after giving birth to her oldest daughter.
“During my treatment, there were days when I was too sick to even hold my baby, and I wondered if she would grow up without me,” she says. “Even with an amazing support system, there were days when I felt so alone, like nobody could understand what it felt like to be in my shoes.”
That’s when McCoy became an advocate for local patients, and she’s continued to advocate and help patients through her career.
Her job includes tasks such as checking vital signs, charting chief complaints, keeping the daily schedule running smoothly, reporting irregular findings and assisting with procedures.
McCoy has several certifications and has taken many different classes to get where she is today, from receiving her Missouri State Emergency Medical Technician License to being a certified member of the Greene County Community Emergency Response Team. In 2017, she was named as a recipient of the Missouri Hospital Heroes Award Certificate.
McCoy says she tries to identify those “golden moments” when something small can mean the world to a patient.
“For example, when a parent arrives in our office with young twins, just holding one, or helping a parent who is trying to corral three small children out to their vehicle. It takes stress off of them,” she says. “As a parent, I can identify that these moments mean the world, when you don’t have to ask for help, but someone is just looking out for you.”
She says one of her past patients needed a blood transfusion but was too afraid to get it. She went and spoke with him, rather than push him to get it. She told him it was scary but that it was his choice and shared her personal experiences from battling cancer. In the end, her patient decided to get the transfusion.
“It’s moments like these that make my career, knowing that it’s not just the medicine but the warmth of compassion I was able to share with him,” she says.
McCoy says that her other motivation for serving patients every day is her two daughters.
“By being placed in a position of helping others, I set an excellent example of how to treat people for my girls,” she says. “They’re both young, and actions speak louder than words as they watch and learn from me.”
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