There has been a lot of extra attention given to our health care workers in the past couple of years and certainly with good reason.
I’ve said for a long time that I was never the kind of person to work in health care, and when my mother and father spent recent years living out their final days in assisted living centers, I again talked about the fact I could never work in a place like that.

God gives us all special talents, and without question, one of mine is not feeling comfortable to do all the things caregivers have to do. Just being truthful here. Even caring for my mom and dad in their final months I was so thankful for the people who took care of them, and more than anybody, thankful for my wife’s ability and willingness to be that compassionate, caring individual as well.

But hey, we all get different abilities, and heck, I can type really fast!

When we started the newspaper over 13 years ago, we were quickly faced with the Obamacare health insurance mandate that everyone carry insurance. For us, with a new small business, we managed it OK in the first year when the price for my wife and I was $900 a month. Then in year two when the policy doubled to $1,800 a month, it was too much for the little Slidell Independent budget. So, both of us went a few years without health insurance until we recently got our Medicare.

When I got my Medicare I started having a few things checked out. The good news is I just finished my last appointment and I am pleased to say all those years of exercising and eating reasonably (thanks again honey for your cooking), paid off and I’ve got a clean bill of health.

But going to doctor appointments was incredibly difficult for me. I’m so impatient at sitting in a doctor’s office, or having to get a few tests done, so for whatever reason, I didn’t like being there. And the idea of working somewhere that you deal with sick people all day, every day—well, I couldn’t imagine it.
As I had my last visit a week ago, and after dealing with a lot of receptionists, nurses, doctors, etc., I was amazed at what I saw over those months. The last visit was at the Louisiana Heart Center, over at the new Our Lady of the Lake Fremaux Medical Clinic, where I was so impressed with the people there that I wanted to tell you about them.

Every time I walked into the place it was packed. They do all kinds of stress tests, ultrasounds, heart scans—you name it, to check your heart and circulatory system. And the line of people walking up to the window when you show up never seems to end. I don’t know how I would manage any of these appointments without my trusty Suduko puzzles!

But I couldn’t believe how every individual I encountered at this place was so pleasant, patient and helpful to everyone who came in. And let’s face it, we’re not all the nicest patients in the world!

I wrote down a few names I wanted to thank for their incredible attitude, not just to me, but to everyone I saw them interact with.
Amy at the front desk must have just found out she won the lottery because no one can always sound that happy checking in someone or answering a question—seemingly every 10 seconds!

Then Colette, Shirley and Winnie did some testing on me and sounded so happy all the time I was wondering if they hand out happy pills to start each day. OK, just kidding. But I am a talker who asks a lot of questions with the reporter in me, and I kept hearing them talk about how much they really cared about the people coming in.

“If they don’t come in and get checked they won’t know if there is any problem,” said Colette, “and we really want to help them know that.”
Then on my final visit, Charlotte and Leah got me through everything and made it clear, this is what talent God gave them. Charlotte told me, “I couldn’t do anything else. I like taking care of people.”

Thank goodness for folks like you!

Dr. Mark Bernstein was the man who I talked to for a final analysis of everything and told me that the physician owners of the private clinic were originally in New Orleans but lost everything and were shut down for six months from Katrina. During that time, they paid their entire staff out of their pockets to keep them on board until they came to the North Shore and reopened.

It seemed obvious that the ownership of the clinic is a smart bunch of docs. They have taken good care of their people, showed their appreciation for their workers, and the result is the most pleasant place you could go if you actually need to have those services.

Just wanted to give them my personal thanks for the outstanding treatment, and even a timely schedule getting in and out with tons of people there. Not sure how they did it, especially with smiles on their faces.

Thank God for our health care workers—even in the day-to-day clinics we all need to visit once in a while.

Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at

Published by: The Slidell Independent