Amy Ballard is a medical social worker at Grays Harbor Community Hospital. Her job is challenging, rewarding and often emotional, all at the same time. It takes a special kind of person to do Amy’s job. Both Amy and her coworkers know this.
Amy works mainly on the hospital’s third floor, the medical floor. In order to do her job, Amy must wear many different hats. Because her job duties vary from day-to-day, Amy says this makes it difficult to describe what her specific role at the hospital is. Some days she’s in charge of discharge planning, other days she’s providing counsel to families who have just lost a loved one to terminal illness. But mostly, she says, her days are busy with “little things” like finding someone a ride or talking with someone who’s just been diagnosed with cancer. Those “little things,” as Amy calls them, are what make up a typical day as a medical social worker.
Though Amy’s job is difficult, she’s up for the challenge. In fact, she thrives on it. Amy says one of the biggest challenges of her job is helping people solve problems that they can’t solve themselves. Amy is good at this. And while she says the types of problems she helps to solve can be complicated, they’re also rewarding.
“There was one patient I had that was a cancer patient,” says Amy. The patient, who was nearing her sweet sixteen, was terminal. “She had a dream of going to the beach,” Amy says. Amy was determined to make the young girl’s dream come true, and after the young patient was discharged from the hospital, Amy got to planning. “We coordinated with the fire department and some other local agencies,” Amy explains.
Through a lot of planning and with the support of the community, Amy says the girl was able to celebrate her birthday at the beach. Quinault Beach Resort and Casino provided lodging accommodations, and when it was time for the girl’s party, the Ocean Shores Fire Department helped her out to the beach where she was met by friends and family. Amy says the girl passed away not long after. “It was the last birthday she ever had. It was special for her and special for her family,” says Amy, reflecting. “It was a good day at work.”
While these moments, triumphs and wins are often paired with heartache, they’re also the reason why Amy loves her job. And, it’s the hard work and compassion Amy puts into these successes that inspire her coworkers.
Earlier last year Amy was honored by her coworkers with the hospital’s Lighting the Way Legand Award. Amy says the Lighting the Way Legand Award is kind of like a employee of the year award. Each month, hospital staff nominate a fellow employee who exemplifies the hospital’s Seven Gold Standards of communication, accountability, professionalism, teamwork, ownership, service and safety to receive the award. Then at the end of the year a single Lighting the Way Legend is chosen from the twelve monthly winners. Amy was grateful and humbled by the honor, but the hospital wasn’t done recognizing her for a job well done just yet.
At the start of each year, the hospital’s Employee Recognition Service Team selects one of the 12 award winners from the year prior to be honored with the prestigious Lighting the Way Legend Award, an award designated for an employee who stands out as a “poster child” for the hospital’s values of reverence, integrity, compassion and excellence. At this year’s award ceremony earlier this January, it was Amy’s name that they called. “It’s humbling to actually be chosen,” Amy says. “In a way, you feel undeserving because it could have been any of the 12.” Amy says the recognition made her feel honored and very special. “To have my colleagues say such nice things, it was amazing.”
And, like Amy says, she’s just one of many hospital employees working tirelessly to make Grays Harbor Community Hospital a shining light in the community. “We care about the people who come here, I think that’s why people continue to come back.” Amy encourages the community to make a local choice and visit Grays Harbor Community Hospital before scheduling an appointment out of town. “We’re always trying to make the hospital better for the community.”
To learn more about Grays Harbor Community Hospital visit the hospital online at ghcares.org, or by phone at 360-532-8330.