Holmes is heart of busy transplant office

shantay holmesThe clock is always ticking in UAB’s Heart and Lung Transplant office. When a life-sustaining organ becomes available, staff leap into action to schedule a procedure with the next patient on the waiting list. After a transplant, staff and patients alike eagerly await the frequent checkups to be sure that the organ is operating properly.

In the middle of this whirlwind of activity, colleagues say, Shantay Holmes is a calming presence. Holmes, an office assistant, is one of four staff members responsible for scheduling patient appointments, authorizing procedures with insurance providers and acting as a first point of contact for all calls.

Above and beyond

“But Shantay goes far beyond those requirements,” said cardiothoracic Transplant Coordinator Yen Dibble. Holmes advocates for patients, stays late to help others accomplish urgent tasks and always is ready to encourage her co-workers, Dibble explained. Because of her work ethic, team spirit, compassion and more, Holmes has been named UAB’s Employee of the Month.

Holmes has been known to make special trips to the Kirklin Clinic just to meet a patient whom she has gotten to know over the phone. Or to spend 30 minutes comforting a nervous family member. “You can’t help but get attached,” Holmes said. “Our patients are under a lot of stress — financially, physically and in so many ways. There are so many changes going on in their lives, and sometimes they just need someone to listen.”

Holmes is often a patient’s first point of contact, from an initial phone call to schedule a consultation appointment through years of follow-up visits. “Once they have their transplant, we’ll see them regularly from then on,” Holmes said. “You really can see how it’s making a difference.”

Family bonding

The family atmosphere of the office is rewarding, Holmes said. “That’s one of the things I love about this job,” she explained. “It’s important to me that we are a close-knit group.” Holmes has worked in the transplant office since 2012; before that, she spent six years in The Kirklin Clinic.

“The patients love her,” said Transplant Coordinator Allison Hayes. “She also has a positive attitude and always encourages others around her.”

“Shantay is always looking for ways to boost office morale and attitude,” added Carson Phillips, cardiothoracic transplant manager at UAB Hospital. “Not a week goes by that I do not receive an email from one of her co-workers commending Shantay for her accountability and exemplary teamwork.”

Thankful and upbeat

Impromptu team-building exercises are one of Holmes’ specialties. When she feels the group needs a break, she will often gather her colleagues in a circle and ask each one to share something they appreciate about the co-worker on either side of them. One of Holmes’ most visible morale-boosting projects is the Thanksgiving Tree. She added the paper outline of a trunk and branches to her wall, and encourages colleagues to add leaves noting what they are thankful for. “The tree constantly reminds us of the blessings we have and shifts the focus away from a stressful day,” said Transplant Coordinator Connie Bowen. “Shantay comes to work daily with an upbeat attitude that leads to a welcoming work environment, and she has dedicated much of her time to improving workplace morale.”

Outside of the office, Holmes enjoys spending time with her daughter and serving in her church. She feels that her job is also a calling. “What we’re doing here is life-changing,” she said. “I just feel like whatever I have to do to get the job done, I’ll do it, to play my part.”