Vernetta Fountain is one of the first people patients see when they come for appointments at Wilmot’s Comprehensive Head & Neck Cancers Clinic. As she takes their vitals and gets them settled in an exam room, she assesses more than their weight, blood pressure and temperature. She gets a sense of how they’re doing that day and how she can help.
“People come here really scared, and it’s a great thing to be there for them and for their families.”
When they come in sad or angry, she gets them to laugh. When they’re overwhelmed or discouraged, she reminds them to keep their hope up. When they need a few minutes to cry and compose themselves, she finds them a quiet, private place.
“She is good eyes and ears for us,” says Jo Ann Snyder, nurse coordinator in the Head & Neck Cancers Clinic. “She lets us know when someone is sick or sad or needs a hug.”
Vernetta is the lead clinical technologist for the outpatient clinics at the Wilmot Cancer Center. In addition to working with patients and preparing exam rooms throughout the day, she manages scheduling for a team of seven or eight techs who cover Suites A, B, C and D. She also oversees the sterilization of instruments for the Head & Neck Cancers Clinic in Suite G, and she trains her peers on these practices.
Although Vernetta has been a tech for many years, she also knows what it is like to be on the other side. She is an ovarian cancer survivor, and she lost her father to lung cancer.
When she moved to Rochester almost 10 years ago, Wilmot was the first place she found a job, and she says it was meant to be.
“It was like fate to be working here,” Vernetta says. “I really feel like this is where I should be.”