January 23, 2023 – Kristin Duty is the patient care navigator for Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department. Her job is to assist with patients, helping them feel seen and heard and meeting their needs when she can. Kristin may bring extra blankets to a patient who is cold or she may sit with a child while a parent steps out to go to the restroom. She may be found brushing a patient’s hair or simply showing extra patience with an older patient as she listens to a story for the third time. Kristin strives to take one patient at a time, being fully present and attentive to their needs.
Before July 2022, Kristin was a legal assistant in a law firm for over a decade. She was one of the first people that clients would see, instantly trying to reassure them and help them be more comfortable. That’s why becoming a patient care navigator wasn’t out of Kristin’s wheelhouse. Although clients at the law firm may not have needed medical treatment, they did need care and she provided care for the clients.
Director of Emergency Room Services Susan Kendrick says, “Kristin is the type of person that you seek out because she just makes you feel better.”
Kristin finds fulfillment in helping others and says that one of the best things about working at Highlands ARH is the feeling of accomplishment she has most days when she goes home. Kristin says, “I feel this is my calling and that this job was made for me. It’s very fulfilling to mesh so perfectly with your job.” Kristin says that having patients return to the emergency department saying they remember her makes her feel like she is doing a good job and that she is making a difference.
Not only does Kristin work to help patients, she extends that care to her coworkers as well. She says, “I love my team. I want to help them whenever I can and for them to be happy too. Our moods can impact our patients so I see part of my job is to spread cheer.” She compares her team to a popular restaurant known for their customer service saying, “They’re the cooks and the care is the food. I’m the middle man trying to help the cooks get their product to the customer.”
“A lot of what I do is reassuring patients. I want them to know that my coworkers are awesome and that they are getting the best care. And I listen a lot. Sometimes people just need to share their concerns or whatever is burdening them, so I listen. And I pray for my patients and coworkers often. I feel God put me here for a reason.” Kristin centers her job around three principles; trust, compassion and service.
When asked what advice she would give to new employees or those thinking of working at Highlands ARH, Kristin says, “Highlands is great. It’s a rewarding place to work with tremendous benefits. Since I’ve been here I have only felt supported. Management is great and my coworkers are wonderful; they are some of the best people with the biggest hearts.”
In her spare time, Kristin loves listening to music and singing but says she can’t play any instruments. She’s an amateur photographer and takes pictures for others sometimes. She has two dogs, Zoey and Gizmo. Not surprisingly, these dogs are rescue dogs. Kristin loves comedies and making people smile and laugh. She jokingly says, “Laughter is contagious and that’s the only contagion we want in the emergency department.”
Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH), is a not-for-profit health system operating 14 hospitals in Barbourville, Hazard, Harlan, Hyden, Martin, McDowell, Middlesboro, Paintsville, Prestonsburg, West Liberty, Whitesburg, and South Williamson in Kentucky and Beckley and Hinton in West Virginia, as well as multi-specialty physician practices, home health agencies, home medical equipment stores and retail pharmacies. ARH employs more than 6,500 people with an annual payroll and benefits of $330 million generated into our local economies. ARH also has a network of more than 600 active and courtesy medical staff members. ARH is the largest provider of care and the single largest employer in southeastern Kentucky and the third-largest private employer in southern West Virginia.