Even though she has a mask on, you can tell Natosha Banks is smiling.
Tosha already is smiling at 7 a.m. as patients arrive to get their COVID-19 vaccine at WellSpan Family Medicine – Roosevelt Avenue in York.
She is smiling as she checks them in – “It’s all about you today!” She is smiling and laughing as she teases patients who have not put their names on their vaccine cards – “What are we going to do with you?” She is smiling as she checks on people who have received the vaccine – “Are you ladies doing OK?” She is smiling as she hands out completed vaccine cards – “No worries!” She is smiling as she helps an elderly man with his coat as he goes out the door – “All right my friend, have a great day!”
Tosha, a physician office assistant at the practice, is a member of the WellSpan Hope Squad, team members who perform administrative and clinical duties at the COVID-19 vaccine sites in WellSpan’s service area in Adams, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties. Recruitment is ongoing for those who want to join Tosha in spreading the hope of the vaccine.
For Tosha, it’s also about spreading happiness.
“My overall intention is just to make people feel comfortable and give them a little bit of joy in the midst of whatever they’re going through,” she said, “I want them to know that I see you and that you matter.”
Tosha says that she feels that outreach is even more important due to events of the past year.
“We’ve all been so separated because of COVID-19,” she says, “so it’s bringing people back, like, ‘You’re part of the group. Come back into the fold. You’re OK. It’s all right.’ Allowing them to feel like they’re part of a unit, as opposed to being so alone.”
Jared Bean, the Roosevelt Avenue practice’s manager, says Tosha “has a brightness, a spark.”
She also has a great memory, retrieving information from what she calls her “mental Rolodex,” asking patients about their children, their family or their job, even trying to recall details about vaccine patients, most who are not regular patients at the York practice.
“She has more energy than just about anyone I ever met. She looked me straight in the eye and engaged with me and every person coming in like we were the only person in the room,” says Lee Pietzsch, senior director, WellSpan Innovations, who received her COVID-19 vaccine at the Roosevelt Avenue office.
As Tosha bustled in and out of the waiting room, she also joked with the whole group of patients, who were sitting in chairs carefully spaced apart just a few steps away from an expansive plant Tosha has nicknamed “Lucy.” “She made us all feel like we were part of something, together,” Lee notes.
On the day Lee was in the office, a woman came in and said her husband had multiple sclerosis and was in their car. Tosha quickly found a wheelchair, went out to the car, helped the gentleman into the wheelchair, positioned him in the waiting room and made sure he was comfortable, telling him and his wife the whole time, “Don’t you worry about it.”
“She is something special,” Lee says. “She really is.”
Are you interested in being a member of the WellSpan Hope Squad? Volunteer and paid positions are available. To find out, go here.