Administrative professionals may largely work out of the spotlight, but their efforts ensure that every unit and department is stocked, staffed, and scheduled. Across the hospital, PPMC’s dynamic, detail-oriented admins offer clerical and organizational support, maintain inventories and calendars, coordinate meetings and events, communicate with patients and vendors, and much more. With their technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and extraordinary capacity to juggle tasks, they keep the hospital running smoothly even on the busiest days.
To get a glimpse of the admin experience, read the perspectives of three essential staff below:
Crystal Mitchell: Administrative assistant in the Executive Office
What was your path to Presby like?
I grew up in West Philadelphia and attended John Bartram High School for Human Services. Penn’s partnership with the school allowed students to actually work four hours per school day in human services positions, and from this experience, I knew I wanted to be a part of the Penn community. In 1982, a temp agency assigned me to a yearlong clerical position in the department of Organ Transplantation at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Five months after leaving, I was recruited for that position as a permanent employee. In 2000, I moved to PPMC to assist the chief of Surgery. Since then, I have worked with Nursing Administration, Nursing Education, and Psychiatry; presently, I work in the Executive Office.
What advice would you give to other admins?
Know and utilize all of your resources — training, technology, knowledgeable co-workers, education, and management. Also, utilize your humanly gifts. A warm smile and greeting usually make everyone feel better. I believe this combination is a winning formula; it has worked for me here at Penn Medicine for the last 38 years!
Luvia Cagigas-Long: Administrative assistant for the Philadelphia Heart Institute
What do you enjoy most about your job?
We’re truly a family. We like to catch up and share our lives outside of work. With COVID-19, our providers are so busy that my goal is to do anything I can to make their lives easier — answering patients’ questions, scheduling appointments, angiographies, and vascular procedures, anything they need. I’m so proud to wear my badge and tell people where I work.
What would others find most surprising about your role?
It is not as easy as you might think! You have to multi-task and stay as organized as possible. I might think that I’m going to come in and finish something from the previous week, but then I’ll get a call that we need to schedule a procedure, and that requires authorization from the patient’s out-of-state insurance. As I’m on the phone with the insurance company, I’m also filling out another provider’s expense report. But because I trained as a Patient Services associate, it was a pretty simple transition. Now, I’m trying to learn as much as I can so one day I can become a practice manager.
Nina Benedick: Administrative assistant for the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) at PPMC
What motivates you to overcome challenges in your role?
[I relocated to the new ACC] right as COVID shut everything down. Not only did I have to learn this new role, but I had to learn to do it from home. This job can throw curve balls, and things are always changing and evolving, but at the end of the day, it is always worth it if we are able to help even just one patient. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive team; my family, team, and patients motivate me every day.
Do you have a favorite work memory?
My favorite work memories are all during the holidays. The Rotz family generously organizes an annual gift distribution event called “Believe in the Magic of Santa,” which helps patients and families take their minds off cancer. Patients are chosen to make a Christmas wish list, and from there, the Rotz family makes the magic happen. It is such a great feeling seeing the difference we make for these families. The smiles make it all worth it. I look forward to this event every year.