Michael Maxey is a man who has a knack for putting people at ease. He’s gentle and caring and it is not a surprise that people who come to Memorial Hospital feel his warmth – almost immediately.
No, he’s not a clinician. He’s a valet and one of the first to greet patients and visitors when they come to Memorial Hospital Central’s entrance at 1400 E. Boulder St.
“I’m not a doctor or anything, I’m just a valet, but I try to do the most I can to assist people in getting to the doctors and the nurses. It’s nice to be able to make some kind of impact and to help out as much as I can,’’ Maxey said.
Recently, a patient who comes frequently to MHC for health care wrote a letter to Maxey’s boss, Kevin Taylor, to express her gratitude for Maxey’s kind way.
“I think Michael has a soft heart for the infirm and the elderly … most likely everybody. I’m 65, disabled and he is so patient with my slowness. … Michael knows when I’m stressed. He absolutely does. He’s soft spoken and has a quiet personality and he has a big heart,’’ the patient wrote.
She went on to say that when the doctor called her to visit the hospital to receive a report that she sensed was not good news, Maxey intuitively felt her nervousness.
“In his quiet, friendly manner, his politeness, assistance and sweet smile along with a word of understanding, Michael made me smile. He always does.’’
Memorial celebrated Maxey by reading the patient’s letter aloud before dozens of people during a morning safety briefing, where employees gather daily to talk about what has happened during the previous 24 hours.
Being recognized by the patient and the hospital, Maxey said, felt good.
“I’m not one to say, ‘look at me’ but it is nice to get recognition for what you do,’’ he said.
Each time he encounters the woman outside the Boulder Street entrance, he said, he can see whether she’s having a good day by the look on her face.
“I just say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ I ask how she is doing health wise, of course, and I assist her with whatever she needs. If she has bags in the back or needs help getting out of the car, I give her a hand. I try to cheer her up because, you know, when you work in a hospital, nobody’s in a smiling mood to be here, so I do my best to make them smile or try to make the best out of what their situation is.’’
During his two-and-a-half years as a valet at Memorial, he’s learned that providing good care – even in the cul-de-sac in the front of the building – is important.
“It’s a big deal, as our manager Kevin says, because we’re kind of the face of the hospital. We’re the first person that a patient sees – us. We’re just valet, but we greet them first, and we’re the beginning of their journey to wherever they are going in the hospital,’’ he said.
Though Maxey is a highly engaged employee, he’s received more than a paycheck and satisfaction through his work at the hospital.
At Memorial, he met Kristina Johnson, who worked in the coffee shop not far from the valet station that is his home base. Two months ago, Kristina gave birth to their son – Elijah – at Memorial.
“It was awesome when we had him,’’ he said. “I’ve been there when friends have had children, but when it is yours – it’s kind of shocking. It is life changing.’’
That day, Maxey parked his own car and didn’t use the services of the valet. But he was there with Kristina and Elijah for the beginning of the journey. And, yes, he was in a smiling mood.