April 27, 2022 – ST. MARYS, Georgia: As a medical assistant at Southeast Georgia Physician Associates–Primary Care, Elizabeth Martin, NCMA, is present during the good times, when patients celebrate hard-earned milestones, and the sad times, when patients receive difficult news from their provider. Showing true kindness and compassion during these interactions can make a world of difference and impact people’s lives long after they leave their appointment.
Beth rose to the occasion during one such visit when a couple came for a new patient appointment. “The man was having major health concerns, and I was able to get him seen quickly, despite being a new patient. I sat in the room with the couple as they talked with the doctor,” Beth says.
Unfortunately, this particular appointment was one in which the patient received difficult news: he only had months to live.
“At the end of the appointment, the couple asked if we could pray together. Of course, I said yes,” Beth says. “We held hands and prayed. At that moment, they decided the best course of treatment for them and thanked me for getting them in so fast – it allowed them to travel and see and do all they could in the short time he had.”
Although the patient passed away five months later, his wife remains in touch with Beth.
“She sent me flowers and pizza and thanked me because she was able to make incredible memories with her husband before he passed,” says Beth. “They had the time to make peace with an impossible situation and share their final moments in love. Taking a moment to help my patients make a big difference, and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be there for them, whatever they need.”
From an early age, Beth knew she wanted to help others and make a lasting impact on their lives.
“I watched my grandma take care of my grandpa who had Parkinson’s disease,” Beth says. “Watching how she and the nurses took care of him made me want to care for other people.” Inspired by those encounters, Beth took a health care class in high school. “My teacher, Mrs. King, made health care fun, so I volunteered at a doctor’s office and discovered that I absolutely loved working in that environment.”
A native of Camden County and the first Miss Camden County Wildcat, Beth grew up with a passion for making a difference in her hometown. During her day to day at work, she assists Phillip O’Connell, M.D., works closely with patients, and returns phone calls to people requesting help or needing to schedule appointments. In addition to her normal duties, Beth also provides essential assistance at the Health System’s Camden Campus offsite COVID-19 testing clinic.
A Source of Support
As all health care professionals know, the pandemic forced everyone to adapt to a new normal, and Beth is no exception.
“I’ve had to adjust to wearing a mask constantly, and the need for continuous coverage at our offsite COVID-19 testing clinic has been exhausting,” Beth says. She’s felt the impact on a personal level, too. “I’ve lost friends and family to COVID-19.”
But the added burden has not broken her stride.
“Beth is a highly productive, respected team member. Even though she provides full-time support for Dr. O’ Connell, she’s always willing to help wherever needed and goes the extra mile by giving COVID-19 vaccines at the Senior Care Center-St. Marys,” says Ella Turner, practice manager. Equally important is Beth’s effect on morale. “She brings laughter and lighthearted fun to the practice and is a joy to be around.”
Beth draws strength from her family, which includes her husband, Matthew, and daughter, Kennedy. “My family supports me through everything – especially my husband, with all my crazy ideas. I like to build decor for our house, and make signs and T-shirts.” But according to Beth, those “crazy ideas” help her maintain a semblance of work/life balance during the tough times, and she holds fast to her ambitious goals. “I want to further my education, finally finish my house remodel, and eventually, travel to Italy.”
Nearly four years into her career at the Health System, Beth remains committed to her profession despite the ups and downs and demands of the pandemic. “Being part of the Health System is a rewarding career, and working at Primary Care is like being part of a family. We all support one another.”
Drawing on that team support and family atmosphere, Beth accomplishes every day what she set out to achieve from an early age: she makes a lasting impact on patients’ lives and her community.
About Southeast Georgia Health System
Southeast Georgia Health System is a not-for-profit health system comprised of two acute care hospitals, two long term care facilities, two comprehensive Cancer Care Centers and multiple specialty care centers, including orthopedic and spine care, joint replacement, breast care, maternity, outpatient rehabilitation, sleep management and wound care. The Brunswick Campus Cancer Care Center is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and offers the only CyberKnife® M6 with MLC technology in Georgia. Additionally, the Southeast Georgia Physician Associates medical group includes more than 140 providers working in 20 different medical specialties at more than 50 locations. The Health System is part of Coastal Community Health, a regional affiliation between Baptist Health and Southeast Georgia Health System forming a highly integrated hospital network focused on significant initiatives designed to enhance the quality and value of care provided to our contiguous communities. For more information, visit sghs.org.