Some days, he’s the first person you see when you walk into Carle’s Champaign on Curtis to set up your appointment. Other days, you can find him in different departments checking people in and out. He’s the face of the place. Meet Nick Novotny, Patient Service representative, who was also in the Army for the last eight years.
“No one wants to come to the doctor’s office. I try to lighten the mood, joke with patients and let them know that I’m human just like them,” Novotny said.
Recently, a patient with autism was having trouble adjusting to remodeling at Champaign on Curtis. Novotny stepped in.
“I could tell the patient was scared. I told her I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her, and she could trust me. That’s when she took my hand,” Novotny said. “It goes back to my military training because I had guys under me. I always kept that mindset with them, as long as they were with me, I had their back.”
This is Novotny’s first job after serving, and since day one, he has been a wonderful asset to Carle and our patients.
“We have patients ask for him by name. He likes to have conversations and get to know them,” said Alisha Cochrane, Patient Service supervisor.
“In this case, the patient’s primary care doctor reached out to Nick to assist with the patient coming in. I didn’t know the extent of his kindness until I read about it on social media.”
The kindness Cochrane is referring to is a Facebook post by the patient’s mom and sister on Valentine’s Day.
“I gave her a Valentine’s Day gift. It was a penguin with a blue heart,” Novotny said. “When she comes in for an appointment, we like to talk about the ‘Toy Story.’ She’s a sweet person.”
It’s more than just the gift Novotny gave her that makes her happy, but that he also sits with her from the start of the appointment until the very end.
“I keep her distracted talking about my favorite character, Woody, or how there’s a new movie coming out. I take her mind off things,” Novotny said.
Every few months, the patient comes in to receive a shot, and with Novotny by her side, she doesn’t even know it happened.
“I don’t like shots either, so I can relate. I tell her every time, ‘You’re braver than me.’ I talk to her and coach her through it,” Novotny said.
And the work Novotny is doing is making a difference for patients, and him.
“This whole thing has been shocking to me because it’s the right thing to do. That’s how I was brought up,” Novotny said. “If I can make one patient’s day, it makes my week.”