You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. If that adage is true, then Robert “Bob” Van Meter and Jack Hunt – along with David Allison at the 10th Street information desk as well as many volunteers - have very important jobs here at Roudebush VA Medical Center.
Manning the information desk in the atrium, Bob and Jack are front and center for the medical center each and every weekday. When a Veteran, family member or visitor comes through one of our entrance doors, it takes just a quick glance for them to form an opinion about how they are going to be treated and onsidered, not only by our medical center staff but by VA as a whole.
Bob and Jack, and the rest of the team working the information desks, are certainly the right people in the right place. “We set the tone for the patient’s experience while they are here,” explains Bob, who is a 59–year-old Air Force Veteran and the lead informationreceptionist. “We not only help get them to where they need to go for their appointment, but we want to make them feel welcome and at ease as soon as they enter the building.”
His coworker, 62-year-old Jack, himself a Navy Veteran, agrees. “We’re both people persons. We welcome patients and their families like this is their hospital.
We respect each and every person who comes in here.” Serving and accommodating Veterans is a big incentive for both men’s positive work attitude. “I came here eight years ago as a patient myself,” explains Bob. “I started volunteering and eventually they offered me this job. I figured I’ll give it a year or two. Well, six years later I’m still here.”
Jack nods his head in agreement and adds, “Many of our patients are stressed when they arrive here. They don’t know the building. They’re apprehensive about their appointment or treatment. We put them at ease with a smile and a willingness to make their visit here a positive experience.”
Both men say they enjoy chatting with Veterans of past conflicts, especially the World War II Veterans. “We really like interacting with our patients,” Jack says. “We respect what they’ve gone through and we both enjoy history and hearing their stories.”
The two Indiana-born employees say another part of their job is just as satisfying. “We both really enjoy helping support the men and women in the yellow vests who work with us to help patients who need assistance,” says Bob. “They’re in a vocational rehab program and we find it very satisfying having a role in helping them get back in the work force.”
So the next time you happen to pass by one of the information desks, say thanks to the men and women working there. After all, they are ambassadors for VA and all of us who work here at the medical center.