Members of The Support Staff
Meet our Support Staff
We are proud to employ a superlative team of healthcare specialists to support you throughout your treatment. Our team encompasses all the facets of patient care, extending beyond the surgery and the chemotherapy to include advice on nutrition, spirituality, and general health support for you and your family. Please read more about our support staff, in their own words:
Shelby Joran (Patient Navigator)
As your Patient Navigator, it is my priority to make sure that your stay here in Houston is as convenient and comfortable as possible. The medical care and process of surgery of a loved one can be very stressful and the last thing you should worry about is having a comfortable place to stay. Whether your stay if fairly short or extensive, we will work to make sure that your lodging and transportation arrangements are properly arranged and convenient to you. I will work to find the best rates that fit your budget, and can even navigate you through Houston. From hotels to restaurants to beautiful Houston amenities, I will try my best to make your stay as pleasant as possible.
I will meet with you during your first visit here, and will continue to follow up with you and our family to make sure that your lodging, transportation and travel arrangements are in order, as well as provide a certain level of support for you and your loved ones. I will come to visit you during your hospital stay and during your follow up visits in the clinic. I have worked for Baylor for four years, and I remain passionate about the care and satisfaction of all of our patients.
Tony Leachman, BCC, MA (Staff Chaplain) - "Chaplaincy is a ministry of care and counseling that involves debriefing, listening, reflecting, supporting, advocating for, encouraging, and even befriending. It is a relational ministry in which we attempt to help others through words, actions, and relationships to experience the comfort and presence of God within the individual’s understanding. My goal is not there to proselytize or try to win converts, but to be a support." – Paul Riddle, BCC, DMinn
Usually, I will meet with you at your first visit to the clinic. Afterward, I will check in with you in the hospital, if you are admitted for surgery or other treatments. I will follow you through your inpatient stay for support to you and your family. After you inpatient stay, I will be available if you need my assistance at any of your follow-up visits.
My role is to provide you with opportunities for debriefing your experiences and feelings related to the illness. I will listen to your stories, whether they are related to illness or not. I also provide support for your spiritual, emotional, and relational needs, validating your experiences and feelings and providing encouragement in the middle of what can be a very challenging time. I will provide resources to help you meet your needs within whatever tradition is important to you.
I’ve lived in the Houston area for 15 years. In my free time, I enjoy studying and writing. I also enjoy watching many of the old black and white movies with my family. Quiet time is something I value greatly.
Teri Johnson-Harper, LMSW (Advanced Practice Social Worker) – I am one of the social workers you will interact with throughout your treatment. Social workers can help patients and families with practical needs, like finding resources in the institution and the community, and with complex needs such as adjusting to an illness, dealing with transitions and decision-making, navigating cultural issues, and communicating with family members, friends, and health care providers.
As a social worker, I provide support, therapy, and resource referrals. I will talk with you and your family members to offer support and guidance. I may meet with you and your family members individually and/or as a family, and provide assistance in coping with the diagnosis along the disease continuum. I also co-facilitate a psycho-educational support group for caregivers. I will be a resource to you and your family throughout your experience at the MTC.
I am a native Houstonian, and have lived in Houston all my life. I understand the value of family, as a wife for 26 happy years and loving mother of two daughters, aged 24 and 9 years.
Debbie Hartgraves (Inpatient Social Worker) – I am the Team Lead Social Worker at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. I cover the inpatient social worker aspect at the hospital. I play a supportive role in your treatment and provide you with resources as your needs arise. My roles include planning your discharge and coordinating any needs you may have at the time of discharge.
You will see me during your inpatient stay: before, during, and/or after your surgery. I will likely visit you in your patient room. You might also see me at your new patient orientation, as I frequently participate in those. Sometimes I am in the clinic as well
I have been working for the Mesothelioma Treatment Center since its inception in 2014. However, I bring over 30 years of social work experience to the team. For 28 of those years, I have served Baylor St. Luke’s in this and other social work capacities.
Contrece Reed (Senior Patient Affairs Specialist) – My role at the MTC is to provide exceptional help and support to you and your family. My goal is to ensure that all your insurance and financial needs are met and support by our team. I will ensure that we receive all referrals, if needed. I will also ensure the all tests, procedures, and surgeries are covered and approved by your insurance company. Additionally, I will obtain any financial responsibilities that are due from you (i.e., your copays).
You will meet me during your initial visit to the MTC, and we will interact throughout your treatment, both in person and by phone or email. I will discuss with you how I will verify your coverage and answer any questions that you have regardless healthcare insurance. My everyday phase is: “I Am Here For You.” I strive to provide the best care for you and to ease the process of coming to us for treatment. I want you to know that we go the extra mile to make sure you receive the best care possible.
Sherri Benson, AAS RMA (Medical Assistant) - My role is to welcome and greet you and your family members. My goal is to make you as comfortable as possible, with compassionate, competent care and a smile.
You will interact with me through your entire initial visit and subsequent visits. I will escort you to your exam room and measure your vital signs. I will document your complaints, allergies, tobacco/alcohol history, medications, help you get signed up with MyChart, a system we use to interact with you online for your healthcare needs. I assist the doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants with suturing and wound care. I will also handle and organize your test results and medical records.
I’ve been a proud Houstonian for 25 years, having moved here from Fort Worth, Texas. I have 30 years of healthcare experience as a medical assistant, surgical technologist, phlebotomist, and instructor. I love to laugh, so tell me a joke when you see me!
La’Phadra Elders (Registered Medical Assistant) – As a medical assistant, my role is to assist the medical team in various ways as they provide your care, including minor procedures like sutures and suture removals. You will see me at your initial visit and all follow-up visits that happen in the clinic (before and after surgery). I may take your vitals, record medical history, and help you to complete several tests, such as the PFT test and 6-minute walks.
I have been a registered medical assistant (RMA) for 2 years. I aim to provide care and support to you with compassion. I have lived in Houston for 7 ½ years, so ask me any questions you have about the city or getting around.
Divya Mehta, (Patient Services Coordinator) - I am responsible for scheduling your procedures and treatments at various hospitals and in multiple departments. I will instruct you on the preparation you will need to do before certain tests and procedures (i.e., fasting).
You will interact with me most before your surgery, as I make the arrangements for it and help you to prepare adequately. I will contact you by phone or email before your surgery date to make plans so that everything goes smoothly on surgery day.
I am proud to be part of Baylor College of Medicine for the past 12 years, and I plan to give the same quality services to patients until I retire. I find my career to be very satisfying and I love helping patients through this challenging experience.
S. LaTrice Williams, NRCMA (Surgery Scheduling Specialist) - My role is to schedule and coordinate your surgery and/or appointments. I also pledge to respond promptly and accurately to your complaints, inquiries, and requests for information.
You will be directed to me after consulting with the physician, either on your initial visit, your follow-up visit, or both. When needed, I assist the back office by taking vitals/conducting necessary testing. However my role is to provide the patient all details regarding the procedure (such as confirming dates, time, the procedure itself, etc.), also informing them of any scheduled diagnostic testing. In the process, ensuring my patients that I’m here if they need me while providing a smile.
I was born and raised here in Houston. I entered the medical field because I enjoy meeting and helping people. I come from a family of nurses and healthcare professionals. My hobbies include spending time with family and volunteering.
Kristine Garcia (Medical Writer) - My role as the medical writer is to assist you in providing a bridge of communication between our office and your referring team of Physicians. I assist in letting your team of doctors know what you have been diagnosed with, what treatments and/or testing you have undergone, and what treatment plan has been developed by our Physicians. This communication will ensure that your team of Physicians are aware of your individual medical situation as well as the tailored plan of care that was developed for your specific needs.
Angela Reedy (Patient Care and Contact Specialist) – I enjoy being a scheduling specialist, because of the significance of my role. I give you the first impression of our facility, which sets the tone as to what you can expect once you come in for your appointment. I am here to do more than just schedule your appointment, but to guide you through what can be a very difficult, and stressful process. I have been in the medical field for over 10 years, and have worked in several different specialties. I love working in the medical field becasue it allows you to meet so many different types of people from every background. You realize we're all just human, and want to be around as long as possible to serve our purpose, and make our mark on this Earth. I look forward to working with you, and helping you along this journey.
Tameka Clark (Patient Care and Contact Specialist) – As a scheduling specialist, my role is to ensure that your all appointments are scheduled at the correct time and in the proper order. This includes your scheduled exams with the doctors, diagnostic tests, post-operative and follow-up visits after surgery, and any other tests the doctor may order. Along with my fellow schedulers, we are often your first point of contact for the planning of your appointments and tests. I will most likely see me on your clinic day and after your appointment when we talk to schedule your next follow-up visit.
I have worked for Baylor for four years and in the healthcare profession for six. I have a spouse and three sons, with whom I enjoy traveling and spending time outdoors.
Regina Herman (Patient Care and Contact Specialist) – My role as a Scheduling Specialist is to ensure each and every patient that call to either schedule an appointment or just to ask a question is created with a friendly and inviting Welcome!
Along with my fellow schedulers, we all take pride in what we do here at Baylor and strive to give our patients’ the best customer service experience ever. As we walk you through the entire process of getting your appointment scheduled and the necessary tests that may be needed, I will most likely see you to assist in scheduling your next follow up visit. I LOVE my job and I enjoy what I do! Even though I have worked with Baylor for (3) years, I have worked in the Healthcare field for over (10) years. I have a non-profit organization where I mentor at risk inner city youth in surrounding communities in the Arts and the fact that I’m very passionate about helping others, being here at Baylor enhance my passion even more.
Cheryl Bixby MS, RD, LD (Clinical Dietitian) – As a registered dietitian, I am here to help you with any food or nutrition related concerns you are experiencing before, during, and after surgery. At your first visit to the clinic, I will instruct you and your family on a high-protein, low-sugar diet to follow prior to any cancer treatments and help you identify any supplements that may be important for you. In the hospital, I will visit you often to coach you through any issues and continue educating you and your family in whatever manner you need. I will help tailor any necessary change to your own lifestyle --all advice and education is individualized to your specific needs. I firmly believe that “all foods fit” in a healthy diet, and that a healthy diet can include anything in moderation.
I am a native Houstonian, and in my free time, I love to cook, eat, and try new recipes.