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Public Service Stars

We put out a call for departments to submit City of Houston employees to be featured as PSRW Super Stars. These employees have gone above and beyond and are true examples of what public service looks like.

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Martha joined the City’s Human Resources department, 20 years ago, and has been a tremendous support to everyone she has worked alongside. In the Risk Management division, Martha directly supports 17 members of the Risk Management division by completing a variety of assignments such as scheduling meetings, routing DocuSign requests, initiating purchase requests, and processing incoming documents. She also sets up work stations for our new team members and always welcomes her customers with lots of smiles, lots of wisdom, and her listening ear.   Over the past year, she’s also trained 8 team members to process some of her assignments as we experienced a significant increase in our work load due to the pandemic. 

Martha is a valuable member of our team and a PSRW Superstar!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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We would like to acknowledge Judge De La Garza, Judge Darryl Scott, Zondra Anderson, Lisa Wormley and Rochelle Dennard for volunteering during the winter ice storm. They were on call at an offsite location for 4 days. They left their families and homes to be available 24 hours a day as needed to ensure justice was able to be served for anyone who may have had to be incarcerated during the winter ice storm on misdemeanor violations.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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On behalf of the HR-Information Management team, I would like to extend my appreciation for the amazing work done by you leading the Records Team and supporting HR services. The endless hours that you have spent to define processes and improve employee satisfaction has impressed the entire team immensely.

Your diligence, self-motivation as well as dedication have been a source of inspiration for the rest of the team.

Thank you once again for all your endless efforts.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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Tracy, Your TDO team loves you and admires your positivity, your patience, and your helpful nature. Thank you for your wonderful team spirit. Your people skills and your excellent communication skills make you an invaluable team member of TDO. We need more people like you!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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Maritza, the processes you have created have given us a more focused direction. We have grown stronger thanks to your efforts, and we do things more efficiently. You have so many qualities and we are very lucky to have you at Traffic Operations. One of the most important traits is the ability to organize, simplify, and make work doable. No one does it better than you!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

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During the freeze and stuck at home, she requested some type of work assignment/task to assist the department any way she could. DWO was reporting operational status updates to OEM/HEC every 2 hours by one person. To share the load of this enormous task, Leilany happily took several night shifts to ensure DWO operational status reports were sent accurately and timely. Not to mention her constant upbeat and positive attitude at all hours of the night. Her dedication and willingness to continue to support the department even without power or water (at her home) should be admired by all. As her direct supervisor, I would be remiss if I did not attempt to get her showcased so she would know how much we appreciate her hard work and dedication.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

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Solis said she was called by the City of Houston twice before she accepted the contract position with the Houston Health Department last summer. She didn’t think she had the right background or experience until she was on the job and realized she was born for this. She says she was the right person at the right time with the right skills for the situation. With previous experience in Oil and Gas, and working as case manager for FEMA during Hurricane Harvey and helping immigrants, she was no stranger to handling people during a disaster. She says her heart goes to people in need and she is highly skilled at speaking with folks in person or on the phone to make sure they have the right information and their needs are met.

Every time she answers the phone, Solis tries to get as much information and details about the person, and what they really need before going any further. She asks them about everything from what area of town they live to potential transportations needs to what dose of vaccine are they on. She wants to make getting the vaccine as convenient and hassle-free as possible for each of our clients.

She says she has a real passion for dealing with people during an emergency like the pandemic. During these chaotic times, she knows people just want to be heard, and they want to be cared about. She says people can tell if you’re smiling even if you’re on the phone and they can tell if you know what you’re talking about. The best part of her job is when people say “thank you so much. Now, I don’t need to call back anymore”. She tries to calm people down so they can feel less anxious and in control. She wants them to know that once they’ve reached her phone line, they’re in the right hands to receive the right help. She also reminds them that although it might be a confusing or frustrating process, the result is being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Customer comments

After over an hour on hold this morning, we were able to schedule our appointments by phone with the help of Elsa Solis; Elsa was kind, compassionate, efficient, and extremely helpful.  We appreciate her very much. Thanks, William and Leslie C.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

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HHD has received rave reviews regarding “Miss K” in our COVID-19 Call Center. Her innate ability to listen to their problems and her dedication to finding a solution is priceless to people who are confused, tired and/or frustrated. She came to us in July 2020 after spending years as a security guard supervisor and a life spent serving friends, family, and her church. She is known for her calming disposition and is always ready to tackle the most distressed, frantic – even enraged – callers. These people are desperate and anxious to get answers and concrete information about when and where they will get their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Her tip to soothing these clients is to make it personal. Instead of calling someone “ma’am” or “sir” she addresses each caller by their real name, and by directing the conversation to that specific person, she says they’re way more willing to take in the information or any help she has to offer.

Call Center staff are working seven days a week and sometimes more than ten-hour days, but Miss K says the best part of her day is when someone says, “Thank you for helping me.” When she hears those words, she knows she’s done her job for the Houston Health Department.

Customer comments

@KimEllis58: Shout out to Miss K at @HoustonHealth who helped coordinate 2nd vaccine dose for my elderly parents. We are so grateful to you and everyone working overtime to help Houston.

Hi Kibunda, I want to thank you for all the help you gave me on Friday when I called trying to find details of my Covid vaccination for the following day. I had called 4 times over the previous 4 weeks to no avail, but you took the time to find my details and note that the appointment had been switched to Delmar Stadium from Minute Maid Park. You subsequently made the appointment time for me and had such patience when you realized that I’m not so adept with a cell phone. I don’t remember when someone was so kind and efficient and patient…. My thanks and best wishes to you, Jean S.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

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Hill was an early temp hire at when the department began contact tracing operations at GRB. However, due to initial technical issues and having to play catch up, the team didn’t hit the ground running until the end of July. He says they started out with about five positive cases a day, but it quickly grew to twenty cases being assigned to them a day. Each case was different, but by following procedures, being careful with the details, they could successfully handle each one. He started managing other contract tracers as an administrative supervisor which he also enjoys. Before joining HHD, he had been working in IT at AT&T and was affected by a massive force reduction at the start of the pandemic. When the opportunity to become a contact tracer opened, he was ready to take it on since he’s always had a hand and a heart for community service. He also went to college for marketing and communications and was excited to use his education to help people.

When he was handpicked by division supervisors to handle registrations at Minute Maid for mass vaccine clinics, he was thrilled to step up to yet another new challenge. He describes how when people arrived on-site, they were verified and then sent to his section. He went over their paperwork to make sure it was completed properly. During one of the first mass vaccination clinics, he says people often had to wait up to three hours in his section before they moving on to get their shot. He was always watching people and noticed when a few started showing signs and symptoms of low blood sugar due to diabetes and other health conditions. He knew that folks probably had not prepared for such a long wait so he went around collecting fruit and juice to hand out to those who needed it.

Most recently, Hill was recruited again to do registrations at the expansive vaccine site at NRG Park. He’s spent the last three weeks helping people navigate the process. He says people are still nervous and just need us to give them instructions and relevant information so they can feel calm and in control of the situation.

Customer comments

“I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what a fantastic job that Harlon Hill is doing in his work related to the COVID vaccine distribution by the City of Houston Health Department.   We received our first vaccine in January at Minute Maid Park and Harlon was our section leader. I found him to be very personable, knowledgeable, efficient, and extremely helpful. My husband is a Type 1 Diabetic and we didn’t plan properly for a long wait and he started suffering a low sugar event. I explained the situation to Harlon and he immediately went in search of something for Robert to eat to boost his sugar levels. Within 5 minutes, Harlon was back with 2 oranges which boosted Robert’s sugar levels enough that we were able to stay and receive our vaccines. In fact, there were a couple other diabetic issues that he had to deal with that day and he met the challenge with grace!   We were seated for almost 3 hours and Harlon came by frequently to check on us, pass out vaccine materials and patiently answered our questions. He was utterly amazing. - Valerie Weichman

You've been repeatedly activated for a reason @Hill, Harlon - HHD. You've done a great job representing CTCMU at the vaccine clinic while also maintaining your COVID caseload during this surge. You are super appreciated. And please take care ... heard about the burst pipes in your home!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

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Just a week after being hired with HHD, Gutierrez’s team began a journey around Houston testing people in high positivity areas as a mobile testing site. His job site changes weekly – sometimes daily – but it’s always the same assignment: test as many people as possible to stop the spread of the virus and save lives. As the manager of the unit, he works with nearby facility staff, or apartment tenets or customers to make sure everything and everyone remains safe while their team is stationed at the location. For example, if they’re set up at a library, he works with staff to make sure they and their patrons are kept away from testing operations. When someone drives or walks up to the site to get tested, they consider it a “hot zone” and their task is simple – keep everyone else away from the area so no one is in danger of being infected with COVID-19.

He also sets the schedule for his team and takes care of any issues or problems at onsite. Before joining HHD, he was a business development manager, but after experiencing personal loss due to the virus, he is proud to do his part in stopping the pandemic. He believes in being proactive and getting tested – no matter who you are – is the best way to do that. Every week, he and his team start “self-promoting” to friends and family where their unit will be located so they can get tested. He never backs away from conversing with people who deny that COVID-19 is real or don’t think it’s dangerous. In fact, Gutierrez even encourages vaccinated people to get tested – especially if they’ve had a known exposure – so they don’t unknowingly spread it to others.

He emphasizes that his mobile testing unit team sticks strictly to the proven safety protocol, and they test themselves once or twice a week. He says his family wasn’t worried about him working on the frontlines of the pandemic because they knew he was doing his part to prevent more COVID-19 deaths. Instead, he was excited to be a part of the process of protecting the most vulnerable Houstonians since his unit is sent to high positivity zip codes. He wants people to know to that if they see a testing site set up in their neighborhood or at their apartment complex, it means the virus is active in their backyard and they need to get tested.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

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Before the pandemic, Cameron mostly focused on providing intern and volunteer support for Houston Health Foundation programs and projects. However, when HHD began mass vaccination clinics at Minute Maid, and now at NRG, her expertise and relationships with community volunteer groups have proven priceless. At Minute Maid vaccine clinics, she quickly utilized her vast volunteer databases to recruit over 100 volunteers from various local organizations including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, retired teachers, Volunteer Houston, HISD and Rotarians. Once onboard, she has to coordinate schedules, registrations, paperwork, and orientations for each person. The ‘free’ manpower she can round up day-after-day seems inexhaustible, and is indispensable to HHD staff before, during, and after vaccine clinic events. They have come to depend on her volunteer support to ensure our large events run efficiently and successfully.

During large events, Cameron is one of the first people to arrive, get set up and be ready to meet and greet volunteers. She signs them in, makes sure their paperwork is complete, and sends them off to their orientation.  She is determined to find a way that each person giving us their precious time feels happy with their experience volunteering for us. These people often put in ten to 12 hour days (on their feet) when they sign up to help, and she will do everything in her power she can to make sure they feel they were productive and put to good use. She also hopes they commit to showing up for HHD or HHF in the future.

Quick stats: Since January 1st, Cydney Cameron has recruited over 790 volunteers who have provided HHD with over 9,480 hours of service.  Each volunteer hour is valued at **$27.20 an hour.  That means volunteers have saved the health department $275,856.00 in manpower in 2021. These volunteers are responsible for everything from parking lot checks to wheelchair transports to vaccine administers.

Customer comments

[Email to Mayor Turner]

Good afternoon. I wanted to send a quick note to you and your team to commend the City on the establishment and improvement of the vaccine sites at Minute Maid Park. I have had the opportunity to volunteer at two clinics so far and think the Health Department has done an outstanding job. There are a few areas [that] stood out to me…. Cydney Cameron with the Health Department has done great work coordinating and communicating with volunteers and has remained incredibly flexible and cheerful through a variety of challenges and changes. She’s a real asset to the City. On January 9, the Health Department delivered 2800 vaccines at a clinic that didn’t exist three days earlier. It was crowded and, I’m sure, frustrating for many of the people who stood in line for so long that day, but the staff had put a good plan together extremely quickly. It was never chaotic, and your team never changed its welcoming and service-oriented perspective through a very long day. I’m embarrassed that I have to admit not knowing the names of two impressive people with whom I’ve worked to give them praise, but the first of those people, whose first name is Rosie and who ran the upstairs pod on the third-base side of the park, was absolutely incredible. She was cheerful, encouraging, always energetic and ready to charge flagging energy on her team, inclusive (we might as well have been Health Department employees for as much as she included us in “her team”), and generally a great leader. It was a pleasure to work with her.

I missed the second weekend but was able to work again on Saturday (2/6) and was stunned by the improvements the Health Department had made in the process… it was absolutely amazing to see the energy and thought that the Health Department had put into improving the clinic’s efficiency. Traffic flow was better to a degree that was almost impossible to imagine. Check-in was spread out and scheduled in a way that was obviously manageable. The team had taken the lessons of its prior experience and put every one of them to work improving the experience… Here’s where I have to speak highly of someone else whose name I don’t have. This one I just forgot, but the woman who ran the clinic that day did a great job. She was referred to as Dr. something, and she was front and center at the entrance making sure everything ran smoothly the whole day. She was diligent, clear and engaged as she described for volunteers and staff what they needed to do across the day, and physically present and hands-on as she was called upon to answer any questions across the day….Thanks, Chris Couch

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

 

Last modified on Monday, 03 May 2021 11:29