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DHM pre-surgical admitting clerk lauded for her patient concerns
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Estrella Rodriguez has served the Manteca community for some eight years at Doctors Hospital as a pre-surgical admitting clerk, counseling both adults and children as they register for their upcoming surgeries. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

Estrella Rodriguez is a “people person” who has been handling surgical admissions at Doctors Hospital’s front desk for the past eight years.

She was recently lauded by her supervisor Gail Haraka for her thorough attentiveness.

A new bride of three months, she enjoys meeting with children and their parents – soothing the fears of the children about the unknown. 

“I always give the parents the option to bring the kids in and let me give them a tour,” Estrella said. “They will see me again when they come in the day of their surgery.”

As part of the pre-surgery orientation the children get to meet with nurse practitioner Joanie Sanchez as part of the “meet and greet” before being admitted to help prevent them from being frightened. 

She added that the hospital volunteers are always there to give the children one of their “cuddle pillows” handing them a special friend they can carry to their procedure and recovery.

Probably her biggest challenge is letting patients know their payment responsibility for those medical procedures beyond what their insurance will cover. 

Estrella is one of four pre-surgical professionals on the admitting staff of some two dozen workers.

For elective procedures she wants to weigh whether the patient can really afford surgery at the moment, or if it would be possible to schedule them for a better time in the future for their financial status.

One Hispanic lady she had worked with that was panicked by her husband’s trauma, returned to see her after he underwent a successful surgery. It was a sincere note of gratitude she will never forget.

“If it hadn’t been for you, my husband wouldn’t have been able to go back to work, and he was the sole provider for our family,” she told Estrella.

The couple had literally fallen through the cracks in the medical system at their time of need. They couldn’t get answers because of a language barrier and the fact they had no insurance, she noted.  The husband and father had been hurt in an auto accident and had been seen in the emergency department and subsequently sent to county hospital.

Estrella gave her a list of surgeons within the county the woman might search out and told her how she might work out a payment plan.  She said she had an added empathy for the couple since she had been in much the same plight trying to help her mom and dad.

From a list of orthopedic surgeons Estrella had given her, she met with Dr. Bliss Clark, M.D., who took over the case, putting the injured family man back on his feet.

Estrella said she spends off hours doing errands for her large family. It is a family where there is a birthday to celebrate just about every weekend.  And her dog “Snuggle” is a constant walking companion every day through their stroll in her neighborhood.

The most important focus for her now is being there for her mom, who suffered a stroke at her Modesto home.  Estrella has two brothers and three sisters.

Like all the admitting clerks at the hospital, she continues to demonstrate a special compassion for her patients, both young and old.