July 11, 2019 – Immediately after my visit with the central authorizations unit at Copley, I headed across the floor to meet with the MPF central scheduling department. This busy team provides scheduling support for 30 specialty departments.

A section of the “Central Scheduling International Airport” tote board

They did an amazing job transforming their space into the “MPF Department of Scheduling International Airport.” The cubicles became airport terminals and a simulated airplane! My first stop was with “flight attendant” Annie Lennon, who introduced me to the basics of this department. I learned that this team was officially formed in 2010 and continues to grow, both in the number of employees and the volume of calls they take. They’ve gone from seven employees in 2010 to 70 today, and from about 101,000 calls per year to more than 456,000!

The teams are divided into the following six pods based on departments they schedule for:

Inside one of the terminals

  • Pod 1: The “Busy Bees” schedule appointments for asthma, allergy, immunology, pulmonology, cystic fibrosis, infectious diseases, gastroenterology, nutrition and psychiatry at Torrey Hills
  • Pod 2: The “Super Schedulers” handle appointments for endocrinology, dermatology, diabetes, nephrology, pediatric failure to thrive clinic and pediatric surgery
  • Pod 3: The “Bone Busters” schedule for orthopedics, rehabilitative medicine and sports medicine
  • Pod 4: The “Heart Warriors” have the singular focus of scheduling cardiology appointments
  • Pod 5: The “Fantastic 5” take care of scheduling ophthalmology and otolaryngology
  • Pod 6: The “Wonder Workers” secure appointments for EEG, cleft palate, craniofacial, genetics, gynecology, metabolic, muscle disease, neurology, plastic surgery, rheumatology and urology

The row with tiki torches and a vacation theme!

Photos of the team members, along with information about each pod, were displayed on a massive bulletin board repurposed into an airport tote board.  Very impressive!

I then walked through the first “terminal,” which had a Mexico theme with features including a taco stand, sombreros, Día de los Muertos decorations and traditional games. Another row looked like the fuselage of an airplane, with windows looking into each cubicle and oxygen masks hanging from clouds! Yet another row had a vacation theme going, with tiki torches attached to the partitions and luggage positioned outside each cubicle. This team really went all out!

Sitting in on a call with Melissa

I then had the opportunity to sit in on an actual scheduling call with Melissa Crespo. The woman who called in to make an appointment for a family member was not authorized to access the health information of the patient she was calling about. Melissa handled the call so well, patiently obtaining the correct spelling, gently telling the caller about the patient privacy rules, and ultimately guiding the family member through the process of obtaining approval to share information. Well done!

I wrapped up this trip with my passport stamped and a souvenir mug in hand. This team demonstrates amazing comradery and teamwork, and it’s clear they like to work hard and have fun along the way. Thanks again for the memorable visit!