Customer Service Pro Praises Staff at Miami Cancer Institute
5 min. read
Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute
No matter where she goes, Stephanie Leger is always observing, always listening. As a customer service training professional for luxury hotel brands, the 39-year-old Miami resident is forever on the lookout for examples of excellent service.
And, Ms. Leger admits, she is constantly evaluating customer service encounters in her own life – even when she underwent treatment earlier this year at Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute for melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. “I just can’t turn it off,” she says with a laugh.
Ms. Leger grew up in the sun and has a sunny disposition to match. Born in Fort Lauderdale and raised in Naples, the cheerful and outgoing 39-year-old now lives in Miami’s Brickell district, which she says reminds her of Manhattan, where she lived and worked for seven years before moving to Miami several years ago.
She says she was “a sun bunny” in her youth who loved tanning and who has spent much of her life in a tanning booth or working outside in the sun – without sunscreen or protective hats and clothing. That all changed when Ms. Leger’s dermatologist detected melanoma on her left shoulder earlier this year and referred her to Ramon E. Jimenez, M.D., a surgical oncologist at Miami Cancer Institute.
Ms. Leger was unsure at first. “I live in Brickell and don’t have a car and I didn’t think I wanted to travel all the way to Kendall to be treated at Miami Cancer Institute,” Ms. Leger recalls. “But my dermatologist gave it rave reviews and told me she recommends it for all of her patients.” In the end, she says, she realized her health was too important. “I couldn’t just focus on convenience.”
Doing her research first
As someone who understands the importance of customer reviews and ratings, Ms. Leger did her research on Dr. Jimenez and says she was impressed with what she saw. “I was impressed with his experience, especially in treating melanoma,” she says.
Ms. Leger says further research on Baptist Health and Miami Cancer Institute provided all the assurance she needed that her dermatologist had made the right call in referring her to the cancer center. “Seeing all of the accolades that they’ve received – nationally and globally – I thought to myself, ‘Wow, they really do have that consistently excellent service, as evidenced by all their honors and awards.”
Ramon E. Jimenez, M.D., surgical oncologist at Miami Cancer Institute
Dr. Jimenez, who is chief of Miami Cancer Institute’s Division of Melanoma and Soft Tissue Sarcomas, saw Ms. Leger in April of this year and performed a “deep and wide” excision to remove the cancerous tissue. “It was diagnosed early enough and had not spread to other areas,” he says, adding that the surgery was a success and Ms. Leger will be following up with her dermatologist every six months.
Putting the patient at ease
As for Ms. Leger, she says Miami Cancer Institute defied all of her expectations, from the cancer center’s soaring, artwork-filled lobby and soothing colors to the “consistently excellent customer service” she encountered at every turn.
“I thought I’d be in another drab hospital, just one of many patients waiting in line to get checked in and then having to wait some more to see the doctor. But as soon as I arrived, I was informed about every step and what I could expect,” says Ms. Leger. “Your mind’s not thinking clearly when you’re dealing with a cancer diagnosis but the staff there really walks you through the entire journey during your arrival process. That really helps put your mind at ease. I never once felt scared or alone.”
Ms. Leger says that the customer service offered in a healthcare setting has parallels to that delivered in a hospitality setting. “Cancer patients have to make a choice about where they are going to seek treatment and things like quality, excellence and reputation all factor into their decision,” she notes. “So much of that is driven by one’s interactions with staff and at Miami Cancer Institute everyone is just so warm and empathetic and helpful.”
Why to get screened for melanoma
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). While melanoma accounts for only about one percent of all skin cancers, it causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths. Melanoma is more dangerous because it’s much more likely to spread to other parts of the body if not caught and treated early.
An estimated 97,610 new melanoma cases will be diagnosed in 2023, the ACS states – about 58,120 in men and 39,490 in women – and roughly 7,990 people are expected to die of disease. Of those, roughly 5,420 will be men and 2,570 women.
According to Dr. Jimenez, melanomas can occur anywhere on the body and most often develop in areas that have had sun exposure, such as one’s back, legs, arms or face. However, melanomas can also develop in areas that don’t receive much sun exposure, such as one’s soles, palms, fingernail beds and even genitals. These “hidden melanomas,” as they are called, are more common in people with darker skin, Dr. Jimenez notes.
3-D whole-body imaging
Now that she’s undergone treatment for melanoma, Ms. Leger says she exercises extreme caution in the sun, using sunscreen in her daily make-up and lotion and wearing sun-protective clothing and wide brim hats whenever she is outdoors. “I’m also very open talking about it with friends and others, to help raise awareness of the importance of sunscreen and sun protection,” she says.
With her history of melanoma, Ms. Leger wants to make sure that every suspicious spot on her skin is identified and monitored for any changes, especially in shape, border, size or color – key signs that a normal mole is no longer “normal” and needs to be evaluated.
Later this year, she will undergo an advanced form of skin cancer screening at Miami Cancer Institute, which is one of just a handful of locations in the U.S. to offer the Vectra, a 3-D whole-body imaging system that helps identify suspicious lesions and track their changes over time.
The Vectra system incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance analysis, according to dermatologist Naiara Braghiroli, M.D., chief of the skin cancer clinic at Miami Cancer Institute and Kalman Bass Associate Endowed Chair in Skin Cancer.
Ms. Leger says even though she’s already had melanoma, she is looking forward to her Vectra imaging. “It won’t reverse the damage that’s already been done, but at least it will give me a new baseline for future screenings,” she says. “I don’t want to leave anything to chance.”
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