Methodist’s Front Desk Information Man

June 12, 2017

Her grandma is somewhere in this big, vast hospital. But this woman doesn’t know where. And she looks scared and anxious, worried and overwhelmed.

“Can you tell me where my grandmother is?” she asks.

Michael Alexander smiles, a gentle smile. “Yes. I sure can.”

Within minutes, that woman is on her way with a map, marked with her grandmother’s room number and exactly how to get there in these long, looming halls of IU Health Methodist Hospital.

She is just one woman helped by Alexander, one of many who will pour in the front door of Methodist this day. And most? They march straight to Alexander.

It’s the job of the front desk man at Methodist. And Alexander calls that desk his domain -- from 7 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. He takes the calls and answers the questions. He sees the worried and the scared and the sick.

And, Alexander says, he has one mission.

“I try to alleviate their stress level as much as possible, try to make their time here as pleasant as possible,” says Alexander, whose official title is guest relations associate. “I can’t stop the pain. But I can try to give them a few less things to worry about.”

In just 15 minutes on Wednesday, Alexander gave 12 people less to worry about. The woman who needed a phone number for a taxi service; she got it. The man who was nearly blind and couldn’t get to his appointment without an escort; Alexander secured one. The couple who walked into the hospital in tears looking for the room of their daughter. They walked away with directions and a comforting word from Alexander.

“It’s about connection,” Alexander says, as he gets a brief break from the swarm of visitors at his desk. “Sometimes, they are intimated by the hugeness of the hospital. Sometimes, the vagueness of what they are there for is intimidating.”

Alexander sees it and senses it. He says he feels blessed to have this job and he hopes it’s the job he’ll get to have until retirement. He loves it that much.

“Thank you Jesus,” Alexander says. “I feel like I was made for this job.”

Most of his adult life, Alexander didn’t get to work with people. He was a mechanical draftsman through his 20s, 30s and 40s. Then, he started selling cars, doing refinance work and he figured out that he enjoyed interacting with people.

But it was his two years working at a service that helped people get connected to human services when it really clicked. He wanted to find a job where people were the sole focus.

Alexander landed a job in valet services at IU Health University Hospital. After four years, this job opened at Methodist. He’s been in the role just 10 months, but you wouldn’t know it. Alexander seems to know every nook and cranny of the hospital.

His favorite part of the job? “That I’m making a difference for these folks that come in,” he says. “Whatever their issue is, whether they are just here to see a patient or become patients. I’m here to help.”

Alexander is married to wife Gina Lewis Alexander, whom he met 42 years ago in high school. They reconnected seven years ago and then married. She is an executive officer for a non-profit arm of Oasis of Hope Baptist Church and the couple has two grown children.

-- By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

Reach Benbow via email or on Twitter @danabenbow

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