In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

June 7, 2022

Christine Martinez on finding faith in colleagues after a fainting spell, mistaking the Chihuly chandelier for balloons, more

By In the Loop

This column spotlights the kinds of people you think about when you think about Mayo Clinic. They've answered questions, serious and otherwise, so you can know them better.

You see them at bedsides. Behind desks. You may spot them walking down a hall or sprinting across a lobby, or talking quietly with a patient and family. They may be friends, teammates or someone you know only by sight. But you're glad they're here. And it's reassuring to know that the health of our patients, our colleagues and the institution itself rests in their capable, friendly, earnest, caring and compassionate hands.

Christine E. Martinez began her 33-year career at Mayo Clinic out of a desire to help others. Martinez always envisioned herself working for Mayo Clinic. Her first memories and impressions of the organization go all the way back to the '70s when she accompanied a family member to Mayo for treatment.

"I loved waiting in the lobby areas, as I thought for sure I would see a celebrity because all the celebrities came to Mayo Clinic," says Martinez, who is now a patient experience specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. "It makes me chuckle thinking back to those days."

It's the rich history and culture that Mayo was founded on that Martinez loves the most.

"I love history and love learning about Mayo Clinic history," she says. "I feel so fortunate to walk the hallways and buildings of this amazing institution where so many leaps in medicine have been founded and so many patients' lives have been changed."

Martinez is inspired by the way the Mayo family looked to the future in all they did to make decisions that would benefit patients of the future.

"It is as if they were thinking of our patients and staff members of today," she says. "I believe this is what drives Mayo Clinic staff to strive everyday for excellence and treat each patient as if they were family."

One of my favorite things about Mayo Clinic: I would have to say the General Service staff.

I had the privilege of being a supervisor in General Service for 20 years. The staff are so dedicated to our patients, visitors and our Mayo staff.

All the teams need to know the processes and workings of every single department at Mayo Clinic. The General Service staff interact with each of our patients and touch every department. That is a huge responsibility, and they do it with such care and compassion.

The General Service staff are the heart of Mayo Clinic. We could not function one minute without them. Their history goes back to Dr. W.W. Mayo, and the department was staffed with one person named Joe Fritsch, aka "Joe Clinic." He worked at the Plummer Building as the first door attendant. I encourage all staff to learn more about Joe.

The single most important thing I did at work yesterday (or expect to do tomorrow): I completed the All-Staff Survey. I was eager to do so, as my leadership team has done an amazing job in the past two years focusing on staff satisfaction. They have spent a great deal of time and effort in visiting with all staff to gain insight to what gives us satisfaction in our positions. They have made some great changes in scheduling, providing the team with the necessary resources for our success and working with the various departments we interact with to strengthen relationships and create common goals.

I appreciate our leaders' willingness to try out staff suggestions and work to create an environment that values each person's gifts and talents.

A book I would recommend, or one I want to read (and why): I love to read books and own more than 400. Only four are novels. But the book that stands out to me and the book I have recommended the most over the years is "The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living" by Amit Sood, M.D. This book combines the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of being human into a very easy-to-understand read. I have read it several times and gain more insight each time.

I strongly believe my life is more balanced and content after putting Dr. Sood's practices into place. By following the strategies of this book, I have stopped some nonproductive habits and have started some new positive and productive habits.

Mayo Clinic has taught me: If you have a foundation of strong character and values, you can get through the challenges that come your way. In the last 33 years, I have seen many changes and have seen Mayo Clinic navigate through many challenges.

Mayo has demonstrated to me that being honest and upfront on what those challenges are provides our patients and staff with the trust that is so important to get through those challenges, which in turn strengthens our character and integrity.

Most treasured or best advice from a colleague at Mayo: My mentor and manager early in my career at Mayo Clinic often told me, "It is not about being the best, It is about being your best." This always stuck with me because far too often my focus would be on my weaknesses versus my strengths. I now try to focus on my strengths because I believe they are the gifts which we have been given.

I believe our gifts are as unique as we are. My current work department in Patient Experience is a perfect example of this. We all have such strong and unique skills and abilities we bring to our team and one another. This is what makes our department so strong.

We tap into each other, which provides us with excellent resources and also provides us with the satisfaction of knowing we are not only helping patients, we are helping one another.

Most memorable Mayo moment: I would say it was a moment that did not start out to be the most positive. However, what I experienced the next day was nothing short of amazing.

About 15 years ago, I was to present at the All-Supervisor's Meeting in Phillips Hall. It was August, and the air conditioning was not working. Typical for me, I fainted as I was speaking. Not once but twice.

The following morning, I opened my Mayo emails and had more than 75 emails, mostly from staff I have never met. All were wishing me well, and some even shared some of their embarrassing moments.

I would read a few and have to stop due to tears. I received flowers from staff members I did not know. I felt so cared for by my Mayo Family. That truly still brings tears to my eyes this many years later.

Another embarrassing but memorable moment was during the construction of the Gonda Building in 2001. Just as it was about to open, I had the privilege of attending a tour of the subway and lobby level.

I had heard so much about the Chihuly chandelier for years. I had envisioned what this Chihuly chandelier would look like. During the tour, there was construction plastic preventing us from seeing the chandelier. One of the tour guides told me to go over and peek. I could not help myself so I took a very quick peek. I came back to her to report that I could not see the chandelier due to all the balloons surrounding it.

I thought the tour guide was going to fall down laughing. I did not know that was the chandelier.

In my mind's eye, it was going to be the crystal chandelier I was familiar with. I walk by the Chihuly chandelier many times each week. I remember that day over 20 years ago each time.

If I could choose the "hold" music for Mayo Clinic: Any Barry Manilow song. Just kidding. I still get made fun of for being in his fan club in seventh grade. I would want "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.

Favorite space on campus this month: Definitely the courtyard between the Mayo Building and Plummer Building. Mayo Clinic's gardens have always inspired my flower gardens.

Mine do not come close to looking the same. However, I have gained some great design ideas.

Spring and early summer are so gorgeous around Mayo Clinic. Seeing the patients and guests enjoying these beautiful spaces gives me a very nice feeling.

People who inspire me: I am often inspired when I visit with a patient's caregiver in my role in Patient Experience. I am often amazed at their commitment and selflessness they pour out to the patient or loved one. Often, they have put their lives on hold to care for their loved ones.

When visiting with the caregiver, I will offer a genuine word of encouragement and let them know how much they are needed and how they inspire me. They appreciate the words of encouragement so much that it makes me realize how rare it is for them to hear them.

The most fun I've had at work this year: My Patient Experience colleagues from Arizona and Florida came to Rochester for a retreat. It was so fun to meet them in person and get to know them, even for a few hours. This really strengthened our relationships.

Team Dr. Charlie or Team Dr. Will? Or Team Mother Alfred or Team Dr. W.W.? I would say Team Mother Alfred because she represents such faith and hope in seeing her passion and dreams realized. She possessed a strong will to help and encourage others to reach their greatest potential.

Her work in the creation of and teaching in schools is very inspiring. Plus, I can just feel her spunk and determination when I read about her perseverance when convincing Dr. W.W. Mayo and the sons of her dream to open a hospital.

When patients recall their visit to Mayo Clinic, I hope they remember: That Mayo Clinic staff know the importance of connecting with our patients on an emotional level, which I believe they feel is as important as our skills and abilities. I cannot be prouder of Mayo Clinic than when I hear patients and visitors express their gratitude for Mayo staff going above and beyond to help them know they are valued, cared for and as if they were one of our family.


Tags: Christine E. Martinez, Employee Stories, In a Word

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