Debbie Blais is an excellent choice for Employee of the Year honours from the Kimberley Chamber of Commerce.
You might know Debbie Blais from Lillith Affair, the by-women-for-women show that is staged annually in Kimberley, B.C. She has a beautiful singing voice and, at the most recent show, acted as MC. Or you might know her as the friendly face on the front line, so to speak, at the Kimberley Medical Clinic. Kootenay Business caught up with Blais, who works as the clinic's medical receptionist and who also happens to be the 2011 Kimberley Chamber of Commerce Employee of the Year.
What's a typical day like for you?
I'm the one that makes the appointments, takes the calls and redirects them. The phone starts ringing at 8:30. We have a doctor on call every day. We take calls from parents with sick children, (people with) ski hill injuries, work injuries. Sometimes you have to make an assessment on the phone. For example, if someone calls in with chest pain, I would put them through immediately to the doctor for him to assess. We get lots of visitors, people who are not feeling very well, who forgot their medications . . . they're very appreciative if you can give them service. I love that. I get to meet a lot of people. I might talk to 200 people in a day. My husband says, 'You are in the right department.' That's because I love people.
What other kinds of calls do you deal with?
I may get calls from Foothills Hospital (in Calgary). Insurance companies phone—I have to redirect (those calls). Very fortunately, we're . . . under that same roof as Interior Health, which is lovely. There was a real push for that when they closed the hospital down 10 years ago. I refer people to (Interior Health) services. (Those could include physiotherapy, Xray, labs, mental health, home nursing, home care, public health and drug and alcohol addiction services).
What's the most rewarding part of your job?
Everybody has a story. Sometimes people come in and they're belligerent or demanding, but that's because they're afraid. The most rewarding part is that they're so thankful (when they get the help they need). My biggest highlight is to make people happy. Everybody deserves good service with what we've got. I love people, I love health, I love all that medical stuff!
Is there any one achievement you're most proud of?
I'm just proud to be here to give good service . . . everyone deserves (good health care).
What did you do prior to your current job?
I've been here 30 years. (Previously) I worked as an LPN (licensed practical nurse) in Manitoba. I worked in the nurse's room in Kimberley, then moved on to the front desk.
What was your reaction when you were named Employee of the Year?
I was shocked! In Kimberley, there are so many great employees. I'm just one of lots of good service people. But I was very, very honoured to be recognized.
What do you like to do outside of the job?
I enjoy Lillith Affair (the all-woman show in Kimberley that raises money for various charities). It gives us people who are amateur performers a place to perform and you just feel good. It's such a good show. I enjoy doing fundraising for local theatre (and other local causes). I'm active in sports too. I curl, golf, camp, hike . . . I'm an outdoors buff! (Blais recently participated in a half-marathon in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.)
Tell us a bit about your family.
My children (two sons) are grown up and living in Texas. One teaches high school music and the other is a surgical technician.