For patients and visitors at Northridge Medical Park, El’Carlos Coles brings “a little ray of sunshine” to their day when he greets them, helps them out of their vehicle or assists them to their appointment.
Coles has been working for the University of Virginia Health System for nearly 30 years, most of his time as a greeter.
“I work with a great group of people here in this building and also get to know a lot of wonderful patients and visitors,” he said.
On a typical day, when he’s not doing the particulars of his job, he’s chatting with patients and staff he regularly sees — about UVa basketball games, the weather or their families.
“People don’t like to go to the doctor, particularly if they know that there’s something sharp awaiting them at their doctor’s visit in the way of a flu shot, but if it starts off with his smiling face, maybe it’s just a little easier for people,” said John Post, who sees Coles almost daily when he visits his wife, Barbara, a doctor at Northridge.
Coles was born and raised in Charlottesville and worked at a number of places in the area before coming to the hospital, where he started working the third shift in central sterile supply.
“After about a year, I got a call from the management of this department asking me if I’d be interested in coming to this department, which I was,” he said. “My body did not like the third shift.”
Since then, in addition to Northridge, Coles has been a greeter at the main hospital, the West Complex, and the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center.
“I enjoy this location especially because this is my Northridge family, man,” he said. “I’ve been doing this building for over 19 years.”
Tina Osborne Leftwich said Coles has been working at Northridge since her very first day.
“I work in the outpatient adult psychiatry office and many times our patients have commented on his kindness towards them and notice when he is out,” she said.
She said if anyone deserves recognition for being an admirable person, it is Coles.
“He always has a smile and a kind word for everyone who passes through his door,” she said. “I don’t think enough people recognize just how important Carlos is to our building. He not only is kind and courteous to all he meets, he sets the tone for patients’ visits with his upbeat and friendly personality.”
Post agrees, and said Coles is “unfailingly pleasant and generous with his time.”
“This is just his modus operandi — he is always moving, always pleasant, always smiling,” he said.
“No one wants to be ill, but when they come through the door at Northridge, El’Carlos Coles makes bearing one’s illness just a little more tolerable,” post said.