Lake Charles Urgent Care: The RAD-est Job In Town

By Calvin Tyler

Photo Credit: Nick Veasey

Photo Credit: Nick Veasey

Not really a big deal or anything, but me and Dr. Jay Marque are friends now. We text and hang out. I was super busy last week doing all types of magazine stuff when he texted me, “What’s up, bro? Wanna grab some lunch?” I was like, “Things are crazy with work right now,” and he was like, “Yeah, I’m sure lives are on the line.” I appreciate sarcastic doctor jokes more than most, which is why I suspect we’re such great friends. big deal.

We meet up at MacFarlane’s Celtic Pub for a quick lunch to catch up on what’s been going on; Me: About my exciting job as a publisher; Him: How being a doctor is so cool. In the middle of all of this wit he suddenly stops everything by holding his hand up and semi-yelling, “WHOA!” My eyes widen in anticipation. He continues with how he remembered wanting to tell me about an awesome article idea he had while out for a run. That’s when I heard what sounded like the most fun job in the world. A Rad-Tech!

GOOGLE SAYS: Radiologic technologists specialize in x-ray and computed tomography (CT) imaging.Radiologic technologists, also known as radiographers, perform diagnostic imaging examinations, such as x rays, on patients.

Dr. Jay starts telling me how awesome his team of Rad-Techs are and what they do for the patients, and then, without warning, he goes quiet again and sits back. “You should meet them tonight,” he says. I explain how me and the lovely Megan might have plans, to which he responded with an unimpressed smirk. At that exact moment my phone rings. It was Megan calling to see if we had plans for the evening. Dr. Jay rapidly snaps his fingers to signal that I relinquish my cell over to him, so, of course, I do. Long story short: We now had plans to meet the Rad-Techs between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Cousins.

We arrive to Cousins to find that everyone there is dressed to the nines. The entire LCUC team is enjoying pre wedding appetizers, as one of the family will be married soon. Dr. Jay notices Megan and I as we casually strolled up towards the table. He greets us and shows us where to sit, gathers all of the Rad-Techs, introduces me as a writer there to interview them, then walks back over to his chair with one of the biggest grins. What most don’t know is that Dr. Jay has one of the greatest senses of humor. Imagine going to a pre celebration with your boss, and everything’s going great, then he seats a writer next to you for an impromptu interview. Hilarious. As always, at first the subjects were a little cold, distant, and uncomfortable. This is to be expected. Everyone is nervous at first. It’s not until they realize that I am not an uber professional writer with pre written notes and thought out questions that people loosen up and the conversation begins.

Rad to my left: Alex Cantu. Rad-Tech. Seventeen year veteran of St. Pat’s who left the hospital system in favor of LCUC.

At my 12: Stephanie Willis. Rad-Tech. Ten year veteran of St. Pat’s who approached LCUC during the earliest days of its infancy.

To my slight right: Stephanie Spano. Rad-Tech. Seven year veteran of St. Pat’s with a need for speed, opting for the excitement LCUC was offering.

From Left to Right: Haley Hollier, Stephanie Spano, Alex Cantu, Stephanie Willis, and Brandi Duvall Guidry

From Left to Right: Haley Hollier, Stephanie Spano, Alex Cantu, Stephanie Willis, and Brandi Duvall Guidry

Just about all of my in-laws are in the medical field, and I love hearing them talk about their war stories. Especially during Thanksgiving lunch. I was in heaven hearing what a typical day as a Rad-Tech entailed. The things they see are, just as their profession suggests, just beneath the surface. I’m, for obvious reasons, not going to go into any of these tales told to me in confidence. But, what I will tell you is the two-plus-two I was able to put together. All of these Rad-Techs left the hospital to work for Dr. Jay in the field of Urgent Care. I wanted to know why, so I, being the semi-journalist that I am, asked.

Cantu is very laid back and talkative. He explains that his schedule was one of seven days on, seven days off, and that he really enjoyed that schedule. What he didn’t like was the physical toll the job was starting to take on his body. Most of the time the patient needed to be lifted from their bed for the exam, or the Rad-Tech would need to hold a leg or arm during the exam, thus exposing themselves to a whole lot of radiation every shift. Both Willis and Spano agree to this common occurrence. Just to be clear. They were not complaining about the work or their former patients or employers. What they were conveying to me was that the dynamic of working within the hospital is paced radically compared to their current jobs. Spano, Cantu, and Willis all tell me how much they loved their time at St. Pat’s, and they still appreciate and respect the friendships that were created there. As they continue to reminisce about the good ol’ days, I drift into the deep end of the “Why does Calvin not feel comfortable in hospitals” pool.

I gathered through research that since most hospitals have shareholders and is treated like a business in the most businessy sort of way, that the quality of the employee’s work environment can be lowered in favor of a healthier bottom line. This has been happening pretty much across the board for hospital staff over the last twenty years or so, and the saddest part is that it affects the quality of the patient's experience directly. A hospital should be a beacon of safety and security, but most feel guilty by the very idea of needing to walk into one. The receptionist pulling a third shift greets you with a stack of paperwork. Waiting under the glow of florescent lights for someone to call your number. Finally getting into a room to visit with an overworked nurse who is rolling into the 73rd hour of the work week. Answer more questions, maybe get to see the actual doctor five minutes before being indicted to a battery of tests. By and large it can feel as though the “care” in health care is gone and the overwhelming desperation masks the dissatisfaction just fine for the time being. Please don’t get me wrong; I respect and appreciate both hospitals and its staff. I just hate when I need one because an operation that size has to be somewhat disjointed into segments for maximum efficiency, whereas I feel all alone lying in that bed waiting for the good or bad news.

No founding members pridefully walking the halls. Just managers and more managers. Why would any aware human being dedicated to helping other humans not dream and long for helping people under better conditions? This is the conclusion I came to. I know me too well to say with certainty that I don’t have the brains to be in the medical field. But, in a Freaky Friday scenario, I would want to do medical field stuff in a happier place.

Willis approached LCUC in 2011 out of curiosity, but feared change. Meeting with Dr. Jay and seeing how much he cared for people and wanted to put the patient first, she knew she wanted to be involved. Willis has been there since the beginning, unpacking the supplies for the first location on Country Club Road. These were exciting times indeed.

When I circled back around to her fear of change, I asked about the moment that made her leap forward into this direction. She responded with, “The first formal interview with [Dr.] Jay was in a coffee shop. Very casual. He told me directly what he expected and how his standards were set. Everything revolved around the customer/patient and giving them the best service/care possible. Then, once that was all said, we just sat around and talked about everything. He’s such an awesome person; open, honest and engaging.”

Willis had met the kind of leader so many us wish we could work for. Dr. Jay is the kind of boss who spends more time thinking of others than himself, but isn’t afraid to set and enforce the ground rules. She looks forward to the days she is scheduled to work. In the hospital, things were much more regimented and could be kind of repetitive. Same thing everyday, day-in and day-out. Working under Dr. Jay in this new environment allowed her to breathe a bit and exercise new skills. If needed she could perform some of the following: splints, draining abscesses (gross), administering shots, etc. Willis expanded on being free to do all of this by saying, “I’m so happy here.”

When I told Dr. Jay that I was putting this article together and that his Rad-Techs really loved their jobs and looked forward to their future with Lake Charles Urgent Care, I shouldn’t have been surprised with his response. “Thanks, Calvin. They really are the best. I’m a lucky guy.”

SIDE NOTE: Most of you reading this are looking forward to traveling this Summer, swimming and getting some sun. Please remember to be careful and stay safe. Stitches and X-Rays might not be a fun way to spend a beautiful day.

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