It happens in a heartbeat.
One minute, Brooks Murrell, a registration clerk at KVH Hospital's front desk, is taking information from a patient. Then, Murrell flashes a smile. The patient often smiles back.
Call it Murrell magic.
When he graduated from Ellensburg High in 2004, Murrell wasn't aiming for a job at the hospital. A native of New Zealand who came to Ellensburg when he was 17, he headed to Alaska to work in the fishing industry.
Cupid lay in wait. A native Alaskan girl working in the kitchen of the cannery where he ran tests on fish caught his eye. Before long, she'd also hooked his heart."I saw her three times a day. You know the way to a man's heart is through his stomach," he jokes. "She had such awesome energy, was happy and fun all the time."
Not that the girl, Tiffany Stepanoff, leaped at the chance for love. Cannery work is seasonal. People come and go. So do love affairs. "I waited a year before we started dating," she says.
Like the others, Murrell left. But the next year he was back - and still smitten. "He'd come and visit me after a 15 or 18 hour shift, not go home and sleep like normal people," she says.
They became a couple. Stepanoff was in college when word came that Murrell's stepfather was dying. When Murrell headed back to Ellensburg, Stepanoff came with him. They married in 2010.
Four and a half years ago, Murrell landed the job at KVH. Call it a prescription for success.
By nature personable and caring, he knows the importance of accuracy and efficiency in his work. He also knows that, as the first point of contact for many calling or coming in to the hospital, his courtesy, demeanor and professionalism are key.
"Every person who comes through the door is sick, hurt or injured - or visiting someone who is," says Murrell, whose swing shift schedule means he's frequently helping patients headed for the emergency room. "The job taught me to be calm," he says.
Occasionally, people complain about the wait. "It's actually better than in most hospitals," he says. "If people complain, the first thing I do is apologize try to explain that it's not a question of who comes in first, it's a question of severity. If an ambulance has just arrived, it might make the wait a little longer. If it's taking a long time I might ask a nurse to come and speak with the person waiting.
"Most people are fine when they understand. I think the worst thing is not knowing why you have to wait."
Eight months ago, Stepanoff, now attending college on-line, joined KVH as a health information technician. KVH has "a great atmosphere and great teamwork," she says.
She says her husband is a perfect fit for that team. "He's social, confident and professional, good at handling uneasy situations, good at finding a way to brighten someone's day," she says. "His job is customer service based. Those those qualities make him very good at it."
UPDATE: While working full time in Registration, Murrell also volunteered in Pharmacy, studying the discipline via a new online course. Just three months in to what for most is a 6-12 month program, Murrell passed the National Pharmacy Technician Exam. Today, while Murrell's familiar smile can still be seen in the hospital hallways, he holds a very different position: Pharmacy Technician.
A prescription for success, indeed.