Lurid, fluorescent lights glare down on the patients. Medicine drips from an IV in hopes of stopping dividing cells in their tracks. Amidst it all, a woman clicks at her keyboard and manages the microcosms of two separate worlds.
Every other week, Lori Austin, dual Business Office Manager of Glenburney Health Care in Natchez, Mississippi, and Rehabilitation and Heritage Manor of Ferriday, Louisiana, goes to the hospital for chemotherapy treatments. Despite the physically and emotionally taxing toll that the cancer (and subsequent treatments) take on her, she still manages to work through it—even bringing her laptop to the hospital to work throughout chemo. While this in and of itself constitutes an impressive feat, Austin takes it another step further than punching in the hours through illness. In the words of Deborah Mount, Regional Director of Business Services, who nominated her for this recognition: “[Austin’s] life has been interrupted, but this has not deterred her from showing up to work everyday with a surpassing amount of passion and integrity. Despite the illness, tests, chemo, and the side effects, she exemplifies a passion for her career, and completes it with the utmost integrity.”
Sometimes distractions can help, even in small ways. Austin says that staying motivated and continuing to work hard helps the chemo days pass by faster. She says that being able to continue work throughout this ordeal has been “beneficial,” and a “blessing” in the way that others have rallied around her during this time.
Austin’s work ethic is apparent. When asked about her journey to her current position at Consulate, she explains how she started out working in a hospital early on in her career, dealing primarily with ER admissions. Eventually, she switched to working remotely for a petroleum geologist. Then she quit after her child was born. However, after her son went off to school, she felt the itch to do something different with her life. She explains: “I’d been working since I was fourteen-years-old, and I was bored!” So she reconnected with a childhood friend who happened to work for a Consulate center, which is how she joined the network of care providers.
When asked about which Consulate’s core values matter most to her, she emphasizes the value of honesty, and how much it makes a difference when “people are upfront and honest about everything.” She also stresses the importance of integrity. She defines it as: “going through hell and still trying to do your best for everyone… Still doing the best of your ability.”
While Austin asserts the necessity of these two particular values, one can clearly see that she also demonstrates compassion throughout her day-to-day role, especially for residents struggling through financial difficulty. On multiple occasions, Austin has gone out of her way to assist residents and their families who are struggling financially.
Even so, she recognizes the importance of having a work/life balance. Her advice for those entering this business: “Just go in, do your job to the best of your ability with a smile on your face, and go home and be with your family.”