Saving Lives All in a Day's Work for Health Services Transportation Specialist

June 08, 2011

UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2011 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Awards. Today: Sandra Watkins of the U.Va. Medical Center. To see all of the stories, click here.

June 8, 2011 — Sandra Watkins is a talker and a walker. A transportation specialist in Patient and Guest Services at the University of Virginia Medical Center, Watkins transports 20 to 25 patients a day all over the hospital and the West Complex for tests and procedures.

"I'm a people person. I like meeting people and talking to everybody," said Watkins, winner of a 2011 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Award.

"She's friendly," said William Michael (Mike) Moran, a patient services supervisor. "She puts patients and employees at ease. When I have a new employee to train, she's my go-to person. She's dependable and I can always count on her to do the right thing."

Her co-workers describe her as outgoing with a great sense of humor. For her, talking is a job asset.

"Most patients want to talk to get their minds off of how they're feeling," Watkins said. "I'm a big talker, so it's easy for me."

"Sandra cares very much about the patients and the people she serves," said Christopher Dube, Watkin's manager in Patient and Guest Services. "Transporters spend a lot of time with patients one-on-one. It's a great responsibility."

Watkins, who has worked at the U.Va. Health System for seven years, is also a keen observer and quick thinker.

In October, Watkins was transporting a patient to MRI for a scan when the patient became short of breath. "I noticed he was having difficulty breathing; he kept knocking out his oxygen and he was very uncomfortable," she said.

She decided a change of course was necessary, and instead steered him to the emergency room. Her quick action saved the patient's life.

"In the ER, they said if she had gotten the patient there a moment later, he would have expired," Dube said.

The patient later asked for her and she went by to visit him. "The best part was when I saw him in the ER later and he gave me the thumbs up. That made me feel great," Watkins said.

Although not clinicians, transporters are trained to monitor patient's conditions, so
to her what she did was just part of the job.

"I just did what needed to be done. I still don't understand what all the fuss is about," Watkins said.

"That's just like her," Dube said, adding that Watkins wanted to share her Sandridge Award plaque with her team because of their support. "She definitely is a team player."

— By Jane Ford

Media Contact

Jane Ford

Senior News Officer U.Va. Media Relations