'A Smile and a Helping Hand'

Denitra Gardner on the rewards, responsibilities of being a Rush guest relations associate

July 31, 2021
Denitra Gardner

In July 2015, my family and I found ourselves at Rush University Medical Center in the transplant department. We were there to find out if one of us would be a possible match for my husband, who needed a second kidney transplant.

The doctors tested our family. Our three sons were ruled out as potential donors. My previous bout with kidney stones had ruled me out as a donor for his first transplant, even though we both have the same rare blood type.

I walked the Medical Center hallways weekly, seeing the exciting and worried people as they passed through the halls, after visiting either with family and friends or just seeing doctors. 

After I was tested and found out that I was being considered as a possible donor for my husband, boy, oh boy, did the games begin. They checked this and they checked that! They found out my true shoe size and hair color. Then, I was deemed suitable enough to be the donor! My husband ended up getting his second kidney, February 2016 — donated by me, his wife.

The 'real' job description

After spending quite a bit of time here at the Medical Center, the place grew on me, and it seemed like a decent place to work. Fast forward a few years, I decided to leave the retail industry for a change of pace. I landed here in guest relations. I thought I had an idea of what the job might entail, but it wasn't until I put on my uniform that I learned about the “real" job description.

Guest relations, REALLY means guest relation! We relate to guests in more ways than just creating guest passes, checking temperatures and distributing facial masks. 

Have you ever had a worried spouse or parent at your desk who are a basket case worrying about family? 

Have you ever had someone screaming at the top of their lungs, because they don't know what they just don't know?

Have you ever had someone at your desk that could use some of your strength added to theirs to help them make it to a patient's room without breaking down? 

Have you ever had a worried young adult trying to visit a sick parent or friend, and they just can't state what they are doing in the hospital through their tears? 

Have you ever had someone screaming at the top of their lungs and still need your assistance?

Have you had a co-worker give you a hard time about taking their required daily temp? 

If you answered yes, to any of these questions, you must work in guest relations.

'Charged, full of energy'

We come to work charged, full of energy, and sometimes not really knowing who we will have to share our energy with, or if we will have the energy to give it to someone in need. 

We try to provide a sense of calm and comfort to all those who might need just a little bit more. We try to stay well informed of changes within the hospital, so we can share that information with the incoming visitors.

The next time you enter the Medical Center and receive a new mask and have your temperature read, just remember that you could be staring your source of relief right in the eyes. We will always be here to greet you with a smile and a helping hand. 

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