Michelle Martin took her last call around 10:30 a.m. That's when Martin, a team lead in internal medicine specialties at the Emory Healthcare Call Center, put her headset down and headed outside for some fresh air for her 15-minute morning break. She suffered a heart attack and died before her break was over.
Martin's co-workers were devastated by the loss. The call center staff had a memorial service and, in recognition of her love of training, named their training room in Decatur Plaza in her honor. Perhaps the most meaningful memorial, however, was instigated a few miles away on Clifton Road.
Robert Taylor, director of cardiology, learned of Martin's death and called Gina Lundberg, the clinical director of Emory Women's Heart Center. He asked if Lundberg's team could screen call center employees for heart disease.
Lundberg's answer was yes. On two Fridays, a team of staff led by Linda Delaney (administrator of cardiology operations), Stacy Jaskwhich (nurse practitioner), and Pam Stanley (nursing director of interventional radiology/cardiac imaging) volunteered their time to screen 120 call center employees who agreed to participate. The screening was thorough, collecting information on blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference, cholesterol, and personal and family medical history.
Linda Delaney, Stacy Jaskwhich, Pam Stanley
A large number of those screened were found to be at high risk for heart disease. These employees were encouraged to talk with a Women's Heart Center nurse about treatments and lifestyle interventions.
"About 90% of our employees are women, and most are working mothers, like Michelle, who was a single mother of two boys," says Alan Kramer, director of patient access at Emory. "They tend to take care of everybody but themselves. There was no better way for Michelle's peers to honor her than to take a minute to care for themselves and find out if they are at risk for the disease that took her life."