2017-12-08 / Business

Dorn employee discovers sincere passion in taking care of others

Story and Photo by Jennifer Scales Dorn VAMC Public Affairs

Kahlil Williams (left) discusses a plan for care with Kitty Ford at the NVCC in Columbia, S.C. Kahlil Williams (left) discusses a plan for care with Kitty Ford at the NVCC in Columbia, S.C. Kitty Ford’s job title is labeled as an advanced medical support administrator for Non- Veteran Affairs care coordination.

It’s a big task for the soft-spoken Ford who has been a civilian federal employee with the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center since 2006.

To elaborate the position better, “I coordinate liaisons between Veteran Affairs and the private sectors,” Ford began in her explanation of her duties. “If a veteran needs to see any private doctor with regards to health care, our office gets it scheduled. This includes requests for care required at specialty clinics also.”

Completing anywhere from 25-40 referrals in a week, Ford’s special clinic requests include general radiology, neurology, interventional radiology, vascular radiology, and pulmonary (respiratory) referrals.

Ford explains the process. “First I call the veteran to see if they have a preference for a doctor or facility. Then I call the vendor to ensure they can take the authorization given for the care or procedure from the Veterans Administration. Then there is the process to compile a packet for review.”

Some appointments may occur the same day, which are mainly those in the high- risk category. Others can be made with some leeway, giving the veteran time to get a convenient date and make coordination for such things as a driver or eating restrictions.

“Attempts are made to get the care as close as possible to the veteran’s home,” Ford said. “Some of the local facilities we have a relationship with for Non-Veteran Affairs care include Palmetto Health Richland, Palmetto Health Baptist, Lexington Medical Center, and Piedmont Neurology, to name a few.” Most of the appointments are done on an outpatient basis also. Ford’s career foundation in Veteran Affairs began as a health technician and medical clerk in the Orangeburg, S. C., Community-Based Outpatient Clinic as a contracted employee. When the position was transposed into a federal slot, Ford came along with it.

Being the only girl in a family of 10 from Bowman, S.C., and the first one to complete college, her educational achievements include a bachelor of science degree in business management, a master’s degree in health service administration, and pre-requisites to medical school in allied science.

She proudly gives credit to her mother, Eloise Williams who reared all of them as a single mother. “She worked hard for all of us,” Ford said. “My mother inspired and wanted me to achieve more as I grew up. She always expressed the pride she had for me.”

Looking back on where she has come in the VA, Ford reflects on several peers at the start of her career who influenced her to become the person she is today. “ When I was at the Orangeburg CBOC, I was on a team with licensed practical nurse Leroy Williams, registered nurse Jackie West, and nurse case manager Susan Knight,” Ford began. “We were a motivated team who were driven to do the best.”

Today the personal accolades continue with her current crop of coworkers.

Kahlil Williams, medical support assistant who has worked with Ford for three years said, “She is very knowledgeable, organized, and a team player. Her hands-on type of training to me was one that I liked.”

Nurse case manager Donna Owings added, “In addition to having a bubbly personality, Ford is professional, reliable, and a joy to be around.”

When not at work, Ford readily admits to being a country girl. “I love my long rides in the country to South Carolina destinations such as Branchville and Greenville or even to the beach. If I do travel out of state, it may be to New York.”

And when she stops to take a bite, though she claims country runs in her blood; her taste buds prefer Italian or Greek cuisine.

Other portions of her spare time are devoted to mentoring to elementary students in third and fourth grades and to students at Fortis College in Columbia.

“Knowledge is power…you are your own handicap…the sky is the limit…what is in you will come out…be great listeners before passing judgment,” Ford says, which are just a few of the philosophies she firmly stands up to.

“I have found my passion in taking care of others because I know there are patients and staff who depend upon me. God places us where he wants us to be, and I want to be a help and asset to human lives,” Ford said.

“It’s not a problem for me to possibly save a life by offering a word, providing an answer, or a prayer of hope for a spouse, family member, Veteran, friend, or coworker,” concludes Ford.

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