Meet Sylvia, the ‘calm before the storm’ of cardiac surgery

Sylvia supports patients at the Heart Center

I’ve been here for 21 years — first in the Department of Cardiology and now in the Department of Cardiac Surgery. I’m the administrative assistant for Drs. Emani and Kaza, but I do a little of everything. With 10 surgeons and four assistants, we all help each other out.

In person, I call some of the doctors by their first names — Ram, A.K., Francis … I like that. We have a great relationship. When I have a problem, I feel like I can really talk to them. In this department, we all care for each other.

I sit at the front desk, so I’m often the first person families meet. When they come in for a consult with a surgeon, of course they’re nervous. I try to calm them down and help out by distracting the kids. Sometimes it’s too much for a child to hear how a surgeon is going to operate, so I bring them out to color or play on my computer.

I always try to put myself in our families’ position. I had a mother call the other day, and the person she was looking for wasn’t available. I could tell she needed someone to talk to, so I stayed on the phone with her for a half hour, past the time I usually leave to go home. If I were calling and the person I needed wasn’t available, I would want someone to hear me out.

It’s a stressful time, so I always try to be calm. I’m the calm before the storm.

Learn more about the Department of Cardiac Surgery.

Sylvia Noel Fagan is the administrative associate in the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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