In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

March 16, 2017

Patient Afraid to Leave His Wife Alone Finds Answer in Tammy Rew

By In the Loop

When symptoms of his wife’s early stage Alzheimer’s disease threatened to derail one patient’s medical appointment at Mayo Clinic, clinical assistant Tammy Rew stepped in to make sure that didn’t happen.

The patient had already had a busy day. One more appointment that afternoon seemed impossible to manage. It wasn't that he was tired after a long day, or overwhelmed by tests and medical information. His concern was simple. He was worried about his wife.

The patient, we're told, is the sole care provider for his wife, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. During the patient's initial appointment, his wife's condition caused her to become confused and even "wander off a number of times" from the waiting room. This led to repeated interruptions during the appointment. It was stressful for the patient, who was scheduled for another appointment later that afternoon. He was "quite concerned," we're told, about leaving his wife alone in a waiting area again.

But he had not yet met Tammy Rew. Tammy, a clinical assistant at Mayo Clinic, heard about the patient's concern and, instead of heading home after a full day of work, offered to stay with the patient's wife for the duration of his late-afternoon appointment. Each time the patient's wife attempted to leave the waiting room in search of her husband, Tammy gently "redirected" the woman, reassuring her that all was well with her husband's appointment. Tammy's supervisor, Kelly Parish, tells us the patient was "so very appreciative" of Tammy's actions and shared afterward that he would not have been able to have this second appointment "had it not been for Tammy."

It's the kind of selfless act that in 2015 earned Tammy a "Karis Award," an annual recognition given to "formally recognize the many caring persons who live out the Mayo Clinic Values in an extraordinary way, as they serve patients, visitors and colleagues." So when Kelly learned that Tammy went "way above and beyond" her job description to make sure one patient could get the care he needed, she wasn’t surprised.

Tammy, for her part, tells us she doesn't really understand what all the fuss is about (or why Kelly shared the story with us). "Honestly, I'm just here to help people whenever and wherever I can," Tammy says. "And really, this was such a simple and small thing … I never thought twice about it." (Spoken like a true Karis Award winner.)

That, Kelly tells us, is what makes Tammy, Tammy. "She's so dedicated, hardworking, and committed to Mayo's mission and values," Kelly says. "Tammy's highly respected by our physician group, and often goes above and beyond for both our patients and her colleagues. She's truly one of the best clinical assistants we have here at Mayo Clinic."

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Tags: Alzheimer's Disease, Employee Stories, Kelly Parish, Tammy Rew

That is the Tammy I have always known. She has always gone above and beyond the call of duty. Mayo is lucky to have her working there. Congrats Tammy Rew.

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