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Staff Spotlight: Nina Willis

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
N Willis

Nina Willis had been working at our Movement Disorders Clinic at Morreene Road for almost a decade when the COVID-19 epidemic reached the United States. Now she’s helping patients with movement disorders get the care they need via telehealth. In this week’s “spotlight” interview, Willis talks to us about how her work has changed over the past month, how the new telehealth visits are benefiting patients, and how her faith and her colleagues help her get through difficult times.

What were your pre-COVID-19 responsibilities within the Department, and how have those responsibilities changed over the past month?
My pre-COVID-19 responsibilities were to give patient appointment reminders, in-basket messages, answer the phone and emails, scheduling patient appointments, sorting, completing faxes and mail, bump list, QGenda entries, and P-cards, and implementing provider template for management and review. Now that we have converted to working from home I am converting appointments into telehealth and contacting patients with instructions and making sure I can assist the patient in any way I can through these difficult times.

How has the epidemic affected your life outside of Duke? What’s one positive strategy or resource you’ve found that helps you cope?

As I look at what is going on around the world today, my heart and prayers go out to everyone and their families. My positive strategy that gets me through day by day is St John 14: "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me."

How long have you been at the Morreene Road Clinic? Besides the recent epidemic, what’s the biggest change in your work since you came to Duke?
I’ve been working at the Morreene Road Clinic since 9/11/11. The biggest change has been the volume of patients. It has increased for Movement Disorders which is great because it gives me the opportunity to meet and help patients with any concerns they may have. It makes me feel good inside knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life by just listening and being there when needed most.

What has the transition to telehealth been like for you and for the patients you see?
Transitioning with telehealth has been wonderful for the Department through this pandemic. It has given our patients the convenience of not having to leave home and from some of the patients I’ve talked to, it makes them feel good knowing they can still see their physician and get the care that’s needed.

What’s one thing you wished more patients knew about the telehealth experience?
I wished more patients would notice the quality of care and that the communication with their physician is just as good as coming in-person.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
The thing I enjoy about my job working with my co-workers. Knowing we are all team players and willing to go beyond to help each other but, most important, being there for our patients.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my job is losing one of our patients. My heart and prayers always go out to the families, and that God strengthens their souls.

What other passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
Lately, my passion and hobbies are getting ready and creating that special day on August 22, 2020. I will be getting married to my soulmate who is the love of my life. I’m looking forward to it. 

Willis and her soulmate, who will be getting married this August, pose for a photo.