As lead scheduler for Americare Therapy Services, Anabell Taveras is equal parts counselor and traffic cop.
She oversees a team that schedules therapists throughout Americare’s service area – from Long Island into the lower Hudson Valley – fielding referrals as they come in and making sure patients get the services they need.
“I’ve been doing this for four years now and I like it a lot – it keeps you busy,” Taveras said. “I like the challenge; it’s always something different.”
Taveras started with Americare as a visit validator, and within a few months moved into scheduling. Last winter, she was promoted to lead scheduler, with three employees under her and one in training who is likely to soon join the team.
Scheduling is more than just setting up appointments and making sure therapists get where they need to go.
First, there’s a matter of accommodating requests, Taveras explains. Sometimes a patient will ask specifically for a male or female therapist, for example, and she tries whenever possible to meet their needs. In other cases, therapists seek to extend services or ask for more authorizations to continue working with a patient, which takes time to work through.
“We’re basically their eyes inside, Taveras said. “And, of course, we communicate with the patients and their families as well.”
Here’s where the counseling aspect comes in. Taveras fields all types of calls from worried people, concerned people, confused people. She handles every call with patience and respect, which she believes is key to successful customer relations.
“I treat them the way I want to be treated; I put myself in their shoes,” she says. “And I speak with a smile on my face. If you do that, it adjusts your whole tone.”
Taveras is a strong believer in follow up. If patients or caregivers have a problem, she works with them to address it and gives them a firm timeline in which she will get back to them. And she always does.
“I give them my name and my number and I’m honest with them about the time frame,” Taveras says. “They will hear from me. Even if I’m not successful they will hear from me. That’s very important.”
Taveras says that when a patient’s family member calls, she always reminds herself and her team members that they are calling about a loved one who might be ill or in pain, so it’s only nature that they’re going to be adamant about wanting the best service as quickly as possible.
“I never downplay people’s concerns,” Taveras said. “I also try to always be open minded and just know that everybody’s day is different, and everybody deals with things differently.”
Taveras has honed her customer service expertise by working in a variety of positions throughout her career. Americare is her first foray into the healthcare industry.
“I had my own beauty parlor,” she explains. “It was a family thing – something my mother did, so I did it, too. But it wasn’t my passion; I like helping people, and Americare Therapy Services allows me to do that.”
Taveras was born and raised in Brooklyn and still lives there today, though she has spent some time living outside New York. She completed high school in the Dominican Republican, where she also studied cosmetology, and lived for seven years in Atlanta, Georgia.
When Taveras isn’t working, she likes spending time traveling, hiking, and walking on the beach when she has the opportunity. She also spends time with her children – she has a 23-year-old and a 29-year-old – as well as her eight-year-old granddaughter.