When you watch Carol Weber walk through the waiting rooms of Central City Concern’s (CCC) Old Town Clinic (OTC), it’s hard to believe that she “didn’t have a clue what [she] was getting into” when she first took a job to work with vulnerable populations. She sits with patients and has a sixth sense for which patients might “need an extra gentle touch that day.” She looks them in the eye and welcomes them by their name—a world of a difference from how many patients are treated by the world outside our clinic walls.
“There are other ways I can move through the clinic,” Carol admits. “But I try to walk through the lobbies to say hello as much as I can.”
For 16 years, Carol has met CCC’s patients in whatever condition or at whatever life stage they’re in when they show up for an appointment. She’s played a number of roles since: performing nurse duties on the floor, counting medications out of Old Town Clinic’s then-emerging dispensing pharmacy, or managing a panel of patients. Today, she’s a care team manager, managing the flow of one of OTC’s four care teams. Her titles may have changed over the years, but Carol has remained steadfast in her dedication to our patients.
As a care team manager, Carol is a conductor, historian and den mother rolled up into one dynamic package.
“The most important thing we do here is to treat people with dignity and respect and to build relationships,” Carol says. “If we’re not building the relationship, we’re not gaining the trust of that person. If we say we’re going to do something, we’re going to do it. That’s where trust is built. Our patients aren’t used to that.”
As a care team manager, Carol is a conductor, historian and den mother rolled up into one dynamic package. At the start of each day, she knows exactly where each person on the team—consisting of a medical doctor, physician assistants, a naturopathic doctor, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, medical assistant, and health assistants—has to be and what they need to do. When the order of the day hits inevitable twists, she steers the team through.
Providers often lean on Carol for additional insight into patients on their schedule. Her relationships with some patients stretch back a decade or more; some even pre-date her time at CCC to when she worked in alcohol and drug treatment nearly 30 years ago. “Sometimes, I might know something about how to approach a patient just because of how long I’ve known them.”
Providing care and compassion to those who have accessed our community health services for three decades, Carol admits, can make most days hard. Still, she comes back each day because with a sense of renewed purpose.
“I just know that this is my place and these are the people I need to serve,” Carol says. “I’ve seen this population being treated terribly by the outside. But they’re willing to entrust their vulnerability to us. They’ve shared their successes and heartaches through the years. That’s what draws me in.”
“I’ve seen this population being treated terribly by the outside. But they’re willing to entrust their vulnerability to us. They’ve shared their successes and heartaches through the years. That’s what draws me in.”
Carol’s relationship-building isn’t reserved exclusively for OTC patients. She draws further strength in the face of hardships from her colleagues. “There are truly great people that I work with here. I want to be part of that—to be part of them. I know together we’re making a difference in our patients’ lives and in our community.”
Across the board, her team members sing her praises right back, and their words make it stunningly clear how her presence lifts them up and puts them in position to better serve our patients.
“Carol nurtures our resiliency and makes us feel cared for, just as she does with our patients,” shares one team member.
“She is the living, breathing, walking definition of a caregiver. She does not know how to be anything other than selfless,” another says.
Remembering names and stories has helped Carol become a face our patients know they can trust. When it comes time, patients remember Carol, too. Years ago, Carol helped one patient diligently work through barrier after barrier to meet the requirement for orthopedic surgery. Months later, she received a phone call. The voice on the line said, “Carol, I was running for the bus! And I remembered that you helped make this happen!”
Carol had told him at the beginning of the process that they would get over each hurdle one by one together. She kept her word: as she had countless times before and has countless times since.