Passion for Community
Lara Lott Moore had to change the way she and her colleagues worked during the pandemic. Now, she hopes some of the changes are here to stay.
By Katherine Pettit Photos by Sally Scott
She is Columbia born and raised, and from her teens, Lara Lott Moore knew she wanted to work at Lexington Medical Center. Now, 12 years after beginning her career, she remains passionate. “I’m a lifer,” she said. “I want to work here for the rest of my life.”
The Vice President of Community Medical Centers loves that it’s family oriented and that the culture is all about serving the community. She appreciates the reputation and her starting job there was what she wanted – to work with the company’s small community centers in meeting the needs of their neighbors and patients. And she is totally in sync with the business philosophy of reaching out. “For example, in our hospital and centers, we are taught to ask others if they need help, and if so, to take that person or family to where they need to go, even if it means being late to a meeting,” Lara said. “It’s an important part of our customer service and of our culture.”
When Covid struck, her job intensified as she helped to organize testing, and then vaccinations at all of the hospital’s community centers as well as in other locations. “Even now, I haven’t been in my office but twice,” she said, laughing. “I carry everything on my laptop and my phone.”
And ‘everything’ is a lot of information, from operations to urgent care, community outreach and occupational health. She works hard to discover what each community center needs, always with an eye toward preventing as well as treating medical issues.
The first Covid vaccines were administered to staff on December 15, 2020 and then the need began to mushroom. Now, she’s still on a mission to help convince everyone to get vaccinated for their own safety and for those around them.
“Some of my biggest takeaways from this experience have been seemingly small things,” she shared. “I was reminded time and again the importance of washing our hands and even though that’s always been true, it’s truer than ever.”
She says customer service – even in a hospital setting – has forever changed. That means fast response and understanding the big picture of dealing with such a large and threatening pandemic.
And there have been positive takeaways as well. “I was so thankful that our community reached out to help us as we were all working so hard to treat patients,” she said. “I don’t know how many meals were donated and kindnesses we were shown by friends, businesses and perfect strangers but there were thousands.” She hopes those acts of kindness will become permanent fixtures in the community. When Lara is meeting potential employees, she makes sure the person is not only qualified for the position but is a ‘cultural fit’ for the company.
Clearly, her tasks change frequently. “I don’t have a typical day,” she said. “I do whatever is needed. It’s all about being flexible.” And being engaged with the staff. “I would never ask staff to do anything I wouldn’t do, and that’s why I’m constantly on the move.” And what about the next five years? She wants to keep helping Lexington Medical Center develop new ways to screen for medical issues – to make people feel safer and taken care of.
It’s been a challenge with a newborn in the midst of the pandemic. With family close by, she’s had help when she needed it. “I couldn’t have worked the hours I’ve worked without help from my family.”
And although her free time has been slim to none during the past year, precious hours to relax are often spent at Lake Murray, a favorite chill-down destination. SakiTumi is a restaurant she enjoys, and recently, she and her best friend took a much-needed getaway to Amelia Island.
What does she want now? “I want everyone to get vaccinated,” she said. “This pandemic sucked the joy out of so many people, whether it came from mourning those we lost, or even time to be with family and friends which disappeared, seemingly overnight.” And yet, she says there have been positives, such as family units doing more together and learning to appreciate small joys. It’s the caring for one another that she hopes remains after Covid has lessened its grip on the Midlands. “I love how much more we remember to honor people for their efforts,” she said. “It may be the best lesson to come from such a difficult time in the life of our community.”