Local valet wins rare award

FAIRMONT – Service excellence is what the Mae Berry Award recognizes in Mayo staff throughout its health care system, and Fairmont employee Dave Curtis fits the description.

The organization employs almost 60,000 people, out of which eight non-physician employees are selected each year for the Mae Berry Award, with two each from the Mayo Clinic Health System and Mayo Clinic campuses in Rochester, Florida and Arizona.

Curtis works in valet services at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont. He is the third local employee to receive the award since it was created 10 years ago by Dr. Leonard Berry, in honor of his mother.

“It’s nice to make people’s day a little bit better, and they make my day better,” said Curtis.

In her nomination, Elizabeth Sathoff, in volunteer services, wrote: “Dave is the sun that lights up our clinic. He consistently has a smile on his face toward every person he encounters, both patients and staff alike. His willingness to not only help others, but to also truly listen to our patients is so important. He inspires me on a daily basis to remember that even a smile can make a big difference towards a person’s experience at our facility.”

Curtis has worked in valet services since the program’s inception in 2009. Whatever the weather, and often the department is busiest in the worst of conditions, he and his colleagues help patients at the front entrance of the clinic. They park cars, provide wheelchairs, greet visitors, and more. On busy days, they park as many as 100 vehicles. The daily average is 50-60.

“Dave impacts people every day, from the start of their visit to the end,” said Dawn Looft, patient experience coordinator.

“Oh jeepers,” Curtis said, blushing.

His wife, Christie Curtis, said that’ just her husband.

“That’s how he treats everyone, not just the patients who come in,” she said.

Over the years, Curtis has gotten to know patients and their families. The most difficult part of his job, he said, is when he sees someone’s health decline.

“People don’t want to come to a hospital usually, so it’s a big deal to be able to put a smile on their face, coming and going,” said Bob Bartingale, administrator at the Fairmont facility.

The Curtises live in Elmore. They have two children.