Denise Fennell was so excited about working for Emory Radiology, she reported for work with the adhesive from an IV bandage still stuck to her skin.
“I just had gotten out of the ER when I got the call from Emory Temp Services about this opportunity to provide admin support within Radiology,” she explains with a laugh. “I didn’t want to miss it so I just came on in.”
She still felt a bit weak as she approached D112. “I have to give an honorable mention to Ursula,” Denise says. “She looked at me and knew I wasn’t at my best but went ahead and got me situated. She kept checking on me, asking if I was okay. I made through half the day and then she said I should go home and rest over the weekend. She made me feel so welcomed and cared for, I knew I was in the right place.”
Denise did rest that weekend; when she returned on that Monday in August 2009, she got busy proving herself invaluable. Five months later, she went “from temp to perm” and spent the next six years providing administrative support for the Division of Interventional Radiology. Denise seems made for radiology.
“My first job was in a children’s hospital in New Orleans transcribing radiology reports.” She pauses. “Do you remember those old Dictaphones? That was old school radiology!” She laughs, her mirth infectious. “That’s how I learned all the radiology lingo!”
After she moved to Atlanta, Denise deepened her command of radiology working in an administrative capacity for over fifteen years as medical secretary for the radiology department at St. Joseph’s Hospital (not-yet affiliated with Emory Healthcare). She also began to develop what might be her superpower: a vast network of people she knows and who know her.
“I call them strategic alliances,” she says. “I make it my business to know people because you never know who you might need to call on for help and you never know who you can help, too. I have a huge network across all areas, not just radiology, but in food services, materials management, environmental services and facilities management. If you need something, I know who to call, and if I don’t know, I will find out for you.” She laughs again.
“Follow-through is one of my keys to excellent customer service.” She turns serious. “I follow up to make sure what was asked of me was completed and I also follow-up to make sure others did what they said they would do. I treat others the way I want to be treated.”
She pauses, as if for emphasis. And then laughs, the sound an irresistible invitation to join in. “Ooh, but I love to make people laugh!”
She’s good at it, too. Wherever Denise goes, the laughter goes with her.
“I also enjoy doing expense reports,” she says when our laughter is interrupted by a faculty member delivering receipts. Reports might not elicit chuckles but they do provide a great sense of satisfaction. “I have a background in tax preparation so I like making things balance. I like the order of it.”
Denise thrives on being helpful. That fits well with her current position: providing administrative support for Dr. Nabile Safdar and the Informatics team, a position she’s held since May 2015 and one she loves.
“Dr. Safdar is so wonderful to work for. He empowers me. He asks me what I think when working on a project. I feel I’m part of the team, not just the secretary. He trusts my judgment and is very supportive and encouraging.”
Denise enjoys learning about informatics, especially during the weekly informatics team meetings. Supporting these initiatives is exciting and rewarding, she says, because it brings together so many different parts of radiology to improve efficiency and quality of care.
Denise continually seeks learning opportunities. Last year she graduated from the Emory Administrative Professional Development Program. “The more I know, the more helpful I can be.”
Denise counts on jazz to relax her after a busy day. Her spring break consists of soaking up the sun and sounds at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Panama City Beach, Florida. “That’s my happy place.”
A typical day for Denise starts with responding to the 20-30 emails waiting for her each morning. That’s followed by filing expense and other reports for faculty. She also handles meeting requests for the informatics faculty and maintains their increasingly busy calendars. She occasionally covers the phones for other admins, a nice way to leverage her strategic alliances.
“One time I was covering the phones for someone and an upset patient called asking about the results of her mammogram which she had done on the Emory St. Joseph’s Mobile Mammography coach. Because I had worked at St. Joseph’s, I knew who to call and how to get her the help she needed.”
As if she’s not busy enough, Denise provides occasional administrative support to the Communications and Creative Services team, particularly with scheduling interviews and meetings. When a CCS team member mentions how challenging it can be to track down busy faculty, Denise fires up.
“Oh, I’ll chase them down! If I have to find a doctor, I’ll find them. I’ll use whatever means I have to.” She chuckles. “Remember,” she pauses for emphasis, “I know a few people around here.”
Count on Denise Fennell to get it done. . .with a laugh for good measure.