Dolores Quintana

Patient Registration Representative
at Intermountain Healthcare
Denver, CO
15 years at Intermountain Healthcare

Through this initiative, we are advancing the way we collect and share the voices of workers we serve. The intent of this initiative is to develop a collection of interviews and professional images reflecting workers’ experiences. This interview is with Dolores Quintana, a Patient Registration Representative at Intermountain Healthcare. She has been with Intermountain Healthcare for 15 years.

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On her background
“I come from a nonprofit background. When I was younger, I started a nonprofit with my mentors. It was for Mexican Chicano youth. We were teaching what we weren’t learning in high school about knowing your rights with the police and the migra (immigration law enforcement) and doing social change work, learning about spirituality, financial aid, our history, culture and to take pride in that. I was in high school when I started this with my mentors.”

On where she is at now
“I live in Wheat Ridge now. I live with my mom. I had moved in originally to help with my grandma because my mom couldn’t help take care of her dementia, the Alzheimer’s and just her falling and things like that. It was hard for my mom. So, me and my girls live there. I do Aztec dancing. I don’t do so many social justice things anymore. It’s really, you get tired, you get burned out. Not that I was looking for a thank you or anything. With any kind of community work, I feel like you have to do it for the love of the people, and you want to change things. Not for the name or thank you because that’s not what you get out of that. So, I do more spiritual stuff. “

On her home life and family
“I live at home with my mom, a 13 year old and a six year old. They have big personalities. My oldest’s name means ‘wish’. She’s my wish baby. And my little one’s name means ‘little fire essence’. My oldest, she’s very loving. If something’s wrong, she’s trying to make sure you’re okay. And my little one, she’s shy but she opens up when she’s ready too.”

On what she does in her free time
“Usually I’m just with my girls, trying to hang out with them. We like to go to Empire, Colorado. If you go up past the little town, there’s a little turnoff where you can sit by the water. We usually pack a lunch and we just hang out there, play in the water and just decompress from the city. I only work three days a week. It allows me time, more time with my girls and to go do those kinds of things. Go to Empire or Golden and the little creek up there. I like to be by the water.”

“It’s been a struggle. When the pandemic first hit, it was an unknown time in the emergency room and for the staff and for our families.”

On the challenges of the last few years
“It’s been a struggle. When the pandemic first hit, it was an unknown time in the emergency room and for the staff and for our families. My little one, she was four. I would come home when we first started talking about it and we couldn’t go anywhere. She’s like, “Mom, are you going to die? I don’t want you to die.” I’m like, “No, I’m not going to get it.” But I would tell her that, not knowing for sure working in the hospital because the PPE (personal protective equipment) was real scarce. People would get one mask for the entire shift. It was just a real scary time. And I feel like my littles, they didn’t learn coping skills or how to socialize because they lost a good part of that for-what was it, a year, two years? Just doing online learning. Can’t go anywhere, can’t see your friends. We would try to do Zoom meetings with our friends, but it was hard. They didn’t get to socialize; they didn’t get to learn a lot of things. So, I think a lot of everybody in general just missed out on a lot.”

On being in the healthcare system during the pandemic
“Yeah, it’s hard. At that time, everybody’s sending food and making sure we were eating and ‘oh thank you, thank you for all the work you do’ and this and that. But I don’t think a lot of people looked out for the hospital staff mentally or spiritually. I feel like that part was forgotten. They’re doing these long hours, long shifts. They’re stepping in for patients, family members who can’t go in and be with them. They’re seeing these people die alone and not have their loved ones. 

I had this dream vision come to me where I had to smudge the people in the community and I asked permission from our leader, one of the other ladies in the group, and she was like, ‘yeah, do it’. And so, I just brought it to one of the charge nurses and I was like, ‘can I smudge people? Can I bless them off?’ And they were like, yeah.

I said nobody has to do it. If they feel the need, that’s fine. I’ll be in the ambulance bay. A lot of people came out, even some of the doctors. We take so much home at this time and we’ve got to make sure we’re good mentally and emotionally to do the work we do. Even registration people, there’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of unknown, a lot of, ‘man, I don’t want to be here. I don’t know what to do.’ So, I just feel like that’s what I needed to do at the time.

It wasn’t easy to come home and have to strip outside on your porch before you go in your house or strip down in the garage when it’s so cold in the wintertime. Those are the parts that people didn’t see. The normal person who doesn’t work in the hospitals.’”

 On what worries her and keeps her up at night
“I think right now what worries me is the safety of my children right now. My oldest, I don’t mind sharing. She gets bullied a lot. She’s biracial, she’s Native and Black. So, she’s had a kid come up to her and call her an ‘f-ing slave’. And I’m like, do you know what that means? She didn’t. She got it but she didn’t really get it. And when I explained to her, [that girl] pretty much called you all these things and she was like, what? And she’s better than me. Because had I been her, I probably would’ve hit the girl. Just honestly, because people learn that at home.

Both my children have had their hair cut at school. And for us, our hair is sacred. Those are our prayers. That’s how we connect to our ancestors because a lot of times they didn’t get to grow their hair, they were stripped of everything.

I keep trying to instill in them, this is who you are. Be proud. You come from great people. We created great things and remember that. She’s dealing with that. And then with all the bullying she’s dealing with suicidal thoughts. So that’s what keeps me up and worrying. Kids have all these social media, everything at their fingertips with their phones and everything. They don’t realize that’s a scary situation. It’s very dangerous. 

Sometimes she hears me and I reached out to our circle to help me with that. Because sometimes you just, as a parent, you don’t know what to do. You’re just lost and you just get so tired and you just need help, you have to. And I feel like if I didn’t have the support from my circle, even before all this happened, I wouldn’t have reached out to anybody. I’d just be struggling at home and losing my mind. I’m so thankful that I have that as my family because we don’t have a big family.”

“I keep trying to instill in them, this is who you are. Be proud. You come from great people. We created great things and remember that.”

On how her friends, community, and family would describe her
“I feel like when my close friends first met me, they were like, I thought you were a bitch. And they’re like, but you’re really not. Like you’re just standoffish. And once you get close, you do anything for your friends or your family. I just try to support them anyway I can.  They would say supportive, loyal, and non-judgmental. Just a listening ear.”

On what interested her in working for St. Joe’s
“Prior to working at St. Joseph, I worked at a Boys & Girls club for four and a half years. I just wanted to work in a different aspect of community. So, my friend helped me get on to St. Joe’s registration team in the emergency room. I do patient access leave. So, making sure we get all the information or the correct information from patients, their insurance, make sure we can get them directed to the right resources for financial counseling, see if they can get qualified for Medicaid or things like that. 

We’re bedside registration. So, we go into the rooms unless they’re on COVID precautions or monkey pox precautions, then we’ll just either call them or just stand at the door.”

On how her colleagues would describe her
“I think they would say that I have developed my leadership skills and am supportive and would do what I can for my team.”

On what she likes about the work she does
“It’s always something different with the patients. The registration part is always the same, but it’s something different with every individual because they’re all different people. They all come from all different walks of life. We can have a doctor coming in as a patient or we have a homeless person on the street. Just varies.”

On what she likes about St. Joe’s
“I like the fact that they offer three 12s (work 12-hour days, for three days per week) so that allows me to be with my children more helping with school and if there’s any issues I’m dealing with personally, they’re supportive and ‘hey, what can we do for you? Do you need this off? Do you need to come in a different day?’ I feel like it’s supportive. For the most part on my team, we help each other out whether it’s work wise or personal.”

“I feel like it’s supportive. For the most part on my team, we help each other out whether it’s work wise or personal.”

On the most challenging parts of her job
“When you feel like you don’t have the support from management. If there’s favoritism. Also, getting cussed out by patients and being disrespected when we’re only trying to do our job and help them. Or, just seeing our regular frequent flyers come in and you see their health deteriorating. They’re not as strong as they were when they came in. So that’s the sad part, the hard part. Or if we haven’t seen them for a while. We’re like, hey, have you seen so and so, have they checked in? I haven’t seen them. Are they still alive? Kind of thing. I think that’s the difficult part. 

We have one individual, he’s quite the character, he’s straight up racist, but he’s one of our regulars. But when we don’t see him, we’re like, is he okay? Is he still alive? Have you seen so and so? You get attached to these people who come in regularly, whether they’re nice to you or not, you just want to know they’re okay.”

On what she would change about her role or the organization, if she could
“I would want the higher ups to come down and work the floor. I feel like sometimes, they get a little title to their name and they’re so far removed they forget. They were regular people just like us at one point when they started their career. I feel like there’s sometimes a lack of being humble and acknowledging the little people. I would definitely change that. Just because you’re management, a CEO or whatever, you cannot forget the people who do run the bare bottom of your organization. Whether it’s the environmental service people, registration, we all have our role, but I feel like we need to be acknowledged just as you would acknowledge your counterpart on those upper levels. 

On what she sees herself doing five years from now
“In five years, maybe I’ll be in a different type of leadership area. Maybe not with St. Joseph, maybe in a different organization. I definitely want to work in the community again at some point. I’m from the community where they are supposed to be serving the people. I know what it’s like not to be able to pay a copay or do I buy groceries, or do I get my medicine? Those are tough situations. Do I pay for my kids’ stuff or do I go get other things? In five years working with the community in some capacity though.”

On what a perfect life would look like
“I’m not sure I would want to have a perfect life because you don’t learn if everything is perfect, there’s blessings and lessons. But if I were to wake up tomorrow, and it would be a little bit easier, I would want my coworkers to feel supportive and to be able to come to work and not have to give themselves a pep talk when it can be super stressful. A lot are going through a lot of heartache right now from family death. I would want their pain to be a little bit less so they can get through the day. I would want my girls to be proud of themselves no matter what. And my daughter not having suicidal thoughts and just be confident in herself and love herself and to learn to pray for herself. And just to continue to learn and be open to criticism, constructive criticism, and not to take it personal, just to be able to learn from it and know this is what I need to change to be better in leadership, better parent, mother, a daughter, and community member. So that’s what I feel like my perfect life would be.”

“I’m not sure I would want to have a perfect life because you don’t learn if everything is perfect.

Photography: Lee Stiffler-Meyer | Let the Light in Studio

 

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WorkLife’s Worker Voice Initiative aims to advance the way we uplift the voices of workers we serve, focusing on authentic stories from workers who experience systemic and societal issues that impact their ability to bring their whole selves to their jobs. If you’re interested in sharing your story, please email us at [email protected].