Every Patient is a VIP to OU Health Edmond Medical Center Employee

We’re a small facility, but we’ve got big hearts.” Those are the words of OU Health Edmond Medical Center employee Antonio “Tony” Townsend, who may have the biggest heart of all.

Townsend has worked at Edmond Medical Center for 23 years and is going strong as the hospital celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. He began his career in housekeeping, has worked as a unit clerk and now serves as a transporter in diagnostic imaging. Patients and co-workers call him “Uncle Tony” and gravitate toward the smile and generosity he brings to work each day.

“This is a great place to work,” he said. “I enjoy putting a smile on our patients’ faces and my co-workers’ faces. I enjoy my job every day and try to give 120% or more.”

As a transporter, Townsend takes patients to their test or procedure, helping them out of wheelchairs or onto stretchers as needed. He has a remarkable ability to notice when patients are anxious or in pain, and he goes the extra mile to make them as comfortable as possible.

“I treat everybody like a family member,” he said, “and I try to show our younger employees how we do it. You can see when a patient is in pain or nervous, or they don’t know what to expect, so I take them to an isolated room, get them warm blankets, and let them relax until the exam. Everybody is a VIP when they come to our area.”

Townsend shows the same kindness to his co-workers, along with a bit of mischievousness. He’s given nicknames to a number of staff members, many of whom call him “Uncle Tony” in return. He also has the same intuition about his co-workers’ state of mind that he does for patients. One day, he noticed that an employee who was a regular in the hospital’s cafeteria was crying. Townsend discovered that the man’s wife had died.

“I told him, ‘We’re family. You let me know anytime you need help.’ I called him at home one day when I didn’t see him because I wanted to make sure he was OK. I saw him again recently and he said, ‘Hey, you’ve really been helping me out.’ We’re family to him,” Townsend said.

Since he began working at the hospital, Townsend has witnessed the transition from pagers to cell phones for getting in touch with providers, and from pencil and paper for recordkeeping to computers and electronic health records. But he is in the people business, and there is no shortage of people to benefit from his smile and kindness.

His supervisor, Deborah Gibbs, Director of Diagnostic Imaging at Edmond Medical Center, said Townsend is dependable and willing to lend a hand in any hospital department that needs help.

“He is extremely friendly and makes every patient feel special, like they are his only patient of the day,” she said. “He is also entertaining — there’s never a dull moment when he’s around. Our department is like family, and we are so blessed that Tony is part of our family.”