Changing the World, One Person at a Time

By: Amber Iuni

Ten years ago, Ja’Ray Gamble, a customer service team lead at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, didn’t know how to live positively or understand what it meant to show compassion toward others.

That changed when he began his career at UPMC. He realized that he was negatively representing himself and wanted to be someone that people would forever remember.

“I was leaving a negative trail behind me, I didn’t want to do that anymore,” Gamble said. “I can’t change the world, but I can change one person at a time with positivity and compassion.”

Gamble now starts each day with positivity and compassion. During his work day, he greets and escorts every patient that walks through the doors at UPMC Magee. He focuses on making patients feel like they’re at home and tries to be that light in the dark for people who need it most.

“You don’t know what a person is going through when they step into the hospital, they are going through something that I don’t know about,” Gamble said. “I choose to be positive and give each person the attention they need when they need it. Each moment is a new moment to spread positivity.”

We sat down with Gamble and asked him a few questions about his job.

UPMCWhy is escorting and directing people so important in your role?

  1. I want to set the tone that, despite your state of confusion, there’s clarity. That begins with me knowing exactly where you need to go. When someone doesn’t know, then I like to be that guidance, that light. I try to relax and relay a confidence they can trust in.

I’m not just going to point and say, ‘hey, go this way’. I find that giving someone your attention says a lot. These people are going through something that I don’t know about. I genuinely care. I understand your situation. Especially at UPMC Magee, I once was in their shoes. I try to understand their experience, or at least I give them attention.

If you’re in my hands, I’m going to take care of you. If you come to me for help, you’re going to get it.

How do you feel you make a difference at UPMC?

By being genuine. I come to work because I’m here to work. I’m not worried about rewards. I’m just there for the moment. I find that my positive intention is addictive. It spreads. It touches people. That’s what I’m here to do. I’m not only here to get a paycheck. I’m here to make a change in people’s lives, even if it’s just for one moment.

Is there a patient that made you feel like you had a purpose?

I had to escort a young lady, she was blind. She was here at appointments all day and was truly anxious to go out and see a play that she was going to be attending later that afternoon. She came to our front desk here at UPMC Magee. I was the only person who was working at the front desk at the time, and I couldn’t leave the desk unmanned. I called security, and they couldn’t do it. They were in a shift change. I was waiting for someone to come back to the desk after their lunch break, and I unfortunately had to tell her, ‘hey, there is nothing I can do for you right now, but I promise when the moment comes, I will be able to do that for you.’

That moment came. I left the desk, without saying a word. I walked her off the property, up to Fifth Avenue, and we spoke the entire way. Ultimately, I made her comfortable. That’s not always easy to do when you’re with a stranger. We had a great talk, and when we got to the bus stop, she insisted that I leave. I had to make sure that she was getting to where she was going, so I waited an additional 15 minutes or so to make sure her proper bus came and that she was going on the correct route. 

No matter where you are, no matter what you do, if you can just take a moment to do your best, it’s worth the shot. Being your best in one moment can lead you to be your best in your next moment. That’s where it all started out. Just wanting to be my best.

My father once told me “what you resist persists” so I don’t resist anything, I accept everything.

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