The Cooks

Team member at Siteman Cancer Center demonstrates our values

Two caring men, one a team member and another a patient's husband, bought bouquets of flowers at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital gift shop. Then both men returned to the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center's radiation oncology waiting room, flowers in hand, where they noticed each other and engaged in brief conversation. Little did they know they were there for the same reason: to celebrate Jennifer Cook, who was going to participate in a Siteman tradition—ringing a bell to signify the last day of her treatment for breast cancer.

When both men rose from their chairs to present their bouquets, they laughed at the coincidence. LaMont Reed, a Washington University patient services representative at Siteman Cancer Center, said, "I gave Jennifer a balloon and flowers to make her feel special on her last day of treatment. I do what I can for our patients, so they feel truly cared for."

Reed left work that day feeling good, though he considers such acts of kindness simply part of his job. He considers himself an ambassador of the radiation oncology waiting room, getting to know each patient and making their time at Siteman a little brighter. His typical day consists of monitoring the desk area, scheduling appointments for patients and greeting them as they arrive. Reed got to know Jennifer during the course of her treatments and like he does for many patients, he wanted to make her last day of treatment special.

Jennifer's husband Paul Cook was touched by Reed's act of kindness. Paul is a host on local FM station, KYKY Y98, where he shared this story on the radio airwaves. Ultimately, the story came to the attention of hospital staff, who invited the Cooks to a Barnes-Jewish leadership team meeting held early in 2015.

Jennifer and Paul took the stage to share their story about the exceptional care she received, but first and foremost, proudly announced that she is cancer free. Everyone in the auditorium cheered as Reed joined the couple onstage, and Jennifer and Reed shared a hug.

"Siteman Cancer Center is extraordinary," said Jennifer. "LaMont really left an impression on us by going out of his way to make me feel welcome and cared for during this difficult time. He treated me with compassion and respect as an individual, not as a person with cancer."

Reed took a few moments to share with the leadership team the inspiration behind his act of kindness.

"When I met Jennifer last year at Siteman Cancer Center, she stood out," said Reed. "She had an energetic spirit; she seemed so strong and calm, always smiling."

Reed said the most important part of his job is getting to know patients and trying to understand what they are going through. In his role, he believes he has a unique opportunity to see first-hand what it's like to undergo cancer treatment, what it's like for a patient's family and friends. He fulfills the responsibilities of his job with the best interest of the patients.

"I love my job. And I'm proud of where I work," said Reed. "People come all over the country to get the best treatment. Making a difference for our patients and making them feel at ease prior to their appointment is my number one priority."

Barnes-Jewish Hospital's mission is to take exceptional care of people. Its team members commit themselves to exceeding patient expectations and to delivering the highest quality medical care in the nation.

In honor of its mission, Barnes-Jewish Hospital holds to a set of values called ICARE, which stands for integrity, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence. Like Reed, team members in a variety of roles demonstrate the ICARE values every day.

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