Ms. Price is the first face patients see when they visit—and one of the reasons many return.
SUNY Optometry’s University Eye Center (UEC) has a few advantages and reasons many New Yorkers keep coming back for care. And it’s not just the doctors, students or cutting-edge equipment, as first rate as all of those are.Kimberly Price, the woman patients encounter the moment they walk into the 42nd Street lobby, is truly an asset.
Ms. Price, the self-described “information specialist for the help desk,” greets patients and answers questions about health insurance, payments and what to expect in the examination. Now, in her twentieth year at the College—she has worked at the call center, referral service, contact lens clinic and in patient accounts—few are as armed with as much information as she is.
Yet what makes Ms. Price a secret weapon, as opposed to simply a knowledgeable employee, is something she didn’t gain at SUNY Optometry or anywhere else. “I was born with this energy,” she says. “You can’t learn that. I believe you treat people the way you’d love to be treated. And my goal is that the patients will want to come back.”
Ms. Price, who lives in the Bronx, also uses this welcoming and encouraging energy outside of the walls of the UEC. For nearly two years, she also did outreach for the clinic. “I went into communities in Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens, sharing what we do, including vision screenings, with the hope that people would come into the facility,” she says.
Prior to coming to SUNY Optometry, Ms. Price worked at Citibank in mortgage collection. Since she joined the College staff, she has witnessed a number of changes, including improvements in the technology and procedures, but also a decided shift in who visits the UEC. “There are a lot more young people now, in their 20s and 30s. Also, because of the homebound and outreach programs, we reach many more patients than was possible 20 years ago,” she says.
Regardless of who walks in the door, Ms. Price is ready. “I’m just a people person,” she says. “I still have a smile on my face when I have a bad day—if it’s about home or outside, I keep it outside.”
But beyond pleasantries, she also helps in ways that have made lasting impressions on patients. “On Tuesdays, the UEC opens later than the rest of the week. One day, a woman came in with her elderly father to pick up his eyeglasses and we weren’t open yet,” explains Ms. Price, who was happy to go to the proper office upstairs to pick up the glasses, obtain their payment and give the glasses to the daughter so she could get to work on time. “She wrote a letter that said I should be the ambassador for the University Eye Center,” she shares.
Many would argue that Ms. Price already is.