By Sue Cunningham-Milito
Whenever I think about the value of our telephone answering service for the past 30 years, Dr. Gordon Van Otteren comes to mind.
Now 83 years old and practicing medicine for 55 years, Dr. Van Otteren became the first 24/7 client for Cunningham Communications in November, 1990.
Our telephone answering service operators enable Dr. Van Otteren to practice the way he wants to care for his patients.
As a “modern-day Marcus Welby” Dr. Van Otteren prides himself on still being available to his patients around the clock at nursing homes and care facilities.
“Why have I been with Cunningham so long?
I run a boutique medical practice. I tell my patients they can contact me any time, day or night. I consider your operators to be part of my office staff.
It’s a two-way street with your operators. They are very cooperative and accommodating in the way I practice.”
My late father, Dick Cunningham, hired Cindy Hutchinson as an overnight operator to handle calls for Dr. Van Otteren.
Three decades later, Cindy is still answering calls on the third shift for Dr. Van Otteren. Cindy recalls applying for her job because somebody told her she had a “pleasant voice on the phone.”
Like all of our team of operators, Cindy approaches her job with the idea that “if someone is calling at 3 a.m. it is because they are having a problem and I let them know that I am there to help.”
“Dr. Van Otteren always wants us to call him at home if the patient wants to speak with him. We let him know what the situation is, and he asks us to patch through the call directly to him.”
I worked part time as a telephone operator in our family business during college.
When Dr. Van Otteren visited our office recently, I jokingly told him how terrified I was to answer his calls and relay his messages.
Dr. Van Otteren was so straightforward on the phone. I wanted to make sure I communicated exactly what he needed to know.
To see him now as a kind and gentle man, with his dapper bow tie and easygoing manner, I can’t believe the mental image I had about him so many years ago.
I am honored that our clients who knew my dad, such as Dr. Van Otteren, still rely on Cunningham Communications for their around the clock answering service needs.