Inside Athena: Regional Ambassador Building Connections Across R.I., Mass.
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — It was a passion to help others that motivated Caitlyn Luis to join the Marine Corps out of high school. For two years, she found herself across the eastern coastline of the United States from Maryland down to the Carolinas serving as a combat correspondent. Her work centered around taking pictures and videos to document history. Her work now is centered around creating moments for residents and staff within Athena Health Care Systems.
Luis is the Regional Ambassador for Rhode Island and Massachusetts. She was hired in December 2020 as the ambassador at Orchard View Manor in East Providence, Rhode Island. Six months into the job, she was promoted.
The Ambassador Program at Athena Health Care Systems is in place for the residents to have an advocate at the center. In Luis’ role, she focuses on the needs of the residents, customer service, and satisfaction. The goal is to provide high-level customer service through companionship and engagement in meaningful, individualized leisure pursuits, safety reminders, supervision, assisting with everyday tasks when appropriate and non-clinical psychosocial support and companionship. The ambassador’s role also ensures that resident concerns are brought to the appropriate department for quick and timely resolution. Luis works alongside Athena’s Director of Ambassador Program, Maryann Thorpe and Chief Strategy Officer/Ambassador Program Managing Director/Procurement Specialist Priscilla Senra, to ensure the ambassadors at her centers are comfortable and confident in their work.
She missed adult conversations. Prior to joining Athena, the Wareham, Massachusetts native spent five years working with children with autism.
“It was a perfect role for me honestly being able to help people and talk with them and spend time with them, get to know them,” she said. “I love that I can joke and be playful with the patients and get them to laugh.”
Orchard View Manor is her home base, but she works at all five Rhode Island facilities including Heatherwood Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Newport, Waterview Villa Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in East Providence, Summit Commons Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Providence, and Oakland Grove Health Care Center in Woonsocket. Additionally, she covers Plymouth Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Plymouth, Cape Regency Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Centerville, and Cape Heritage Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Sandwich all located in southeastern Massachusetts.
Every day is different. Some days she’s doing beauty care and other days she’s changing beds or passing out dining trays.
“It’s very important that I’m very friendly to not only the patients but to the staff and I offer my assistance to them too,” she said.
She says working alongside the staff and making sure they are comfortable with her presence is key. She’ll introduce herself in the morning meeting at whatever center she may be working at and offer any help. Some questions Luis may ask are, “Is there anything I can do to help today?” “Are there any room changes?” or “Is there anybody who really needs some extra one-on-one conversation?”
There’s one story of a patient at Plymouth Rehab that stays with her. She tells how he had a difficult time connecting and opening up to the staff at the center. He had a low quality of life and didn’t leave his bedroom. Luis wanted to help.
“I paid a lot of extra attention to this patient and I would sit with him almost every day and make sure that he’s getting what he wants to eat, make sure I’m offering music, put on the TV, or just offer conversation. I was one of the only staff members that he felt comfortable making jokes with and talking about his past and how much he liked cars,” she said. “It makes me feel really good. The fact that I’m able to get people to open up and use my conversational skills and find things they’re interested in.”
Luis said she’s grateful to be a part of the team and calls it a “blessing” she found something so perfect for her.