February

Portrait of Lacie Matherne.
Lacie Matherne is manager of the Cancer Center and Research Institute clinic at the Jackson Medical Mall.
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People of the U: Lacie Matherne

Published on Monday, February 24, 2020

By: Cynthia Wall, cwall@umc.edu

As a cancer clinic manager, Lacie Matherne gets to combine two loves: motivating people and striving to provide top notch services for cancer patients at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Some skills come naturally, some were learned and some were honed during a year as a New Orleans Saints Saintsation.

This Louisiana native may not have the stereotypical accent but she’s got the drive to study hard, practice harder and perform on a big stage.

In her role in the UMMC Cancer Center and Research Institute outpatient clinics at Jackson Medical Mall, Matherne said, “I wear many hats.”

Portrait of Lacie Matherne in Saintsation outfit
Matherne spent her senior year of college as a New Orleans Saints Saintsation, juggling classes, part time jobs and Saintsation duties. Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints.

“Essentially, I try to make sure the clinic is running effectively and efficiently every day. I want to make sure patients have a positive experience here and that they’re taken care of.”

Duties may range from picking stray paper off the clinic floor to revising schedules so fewer patients have to wait to check in or out. “It’s a constant puzzle to even out the work flow,” she said.

Previous experience at Ochsner Health Systems in New Orleans overseeing a large scheduling group helps. Newer tasks, such as working with the lab, pharmacy and nursing to make sure each patient visit flows smoothly, she greets enthusiastically.

“She’s very efficient and has outstanding customer service skills,” said Lisa Honeycutt, director of the CCRI Service Line and Matherne’s supervisor.

“She’s been preparing for this her whole life,” Honeycutt said, pointing to work, including the Saintsations, that let her hone people and organizational skills.

Matherne also worked as an assistant manager in a salon while in school and during her stint as a Saintsation participated on the field and in public appearances.

 She majored in psychology at Southeastern Louisiana University and got her masters in industrial organizational psychology where her thesis was on generational differences in the workforce.

“She has a unique set of skills,” Honeycutt said. “Here those skills and that research help her work well with the multigenerational base we have.”

Portrait of Dr. Stephanie Elkins
Elkins

“She is calm and handles all issues with tact,” said Dr. Stephanie Elkins, chair of the Division of Hematology and Oncology. “She is very organized and while she does indeed wear many hats, she manages to wear them all at once with grace.”

And the Saintsations? That wasn’t an opportunity Matherne expected.

“I always loved dance. My mom put me in it at 3,” she said. After stints on her high school dance team and two years on the Southeastern dance team, she decided to take a year off and “just be a college student.”

“I found out I had too much time on my hands,” she said. “I decided to try out for the Saintsations, more for the experience than going in with an expectation I’d be selected.”

She made it. “As soon as you make the team you start practicing,” she said.

Her extra time disappeared.  Practices were two evenings a week for two to three hours as she completed her senior year in college and worked two part time jobs: babysitting and as an assistant manager at a hair salon.

Her memories are good: “On Sundays, you’re in your element, doing what you want to do and dancing on a big stage. We got to meet everyone from little girls to high-end business leaders.”

Portrait of Lacie MAtherne in Saintsation outfit.
Matherne poses for a New Orleans Saints photo during her year as a Saintsation. Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints.

She met players occasionally when a player and a dancer were at the same team-organized public appearance. No, she said, anticipating the question, she didn’t meet Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Matherne said she doesn’t have any bad memories but the weekly weigh-ins provided some anxious moments. Even that concern didn’t stop one college ritual: the large hamburger she and friends ate after completing finals, the day of a weigh in. “It was good,” she said, quickly flashing a grin.

Do the two jobs meet? As a Saintsation she worked with a team to motivate a crowd and focus its energy. As a clinic manger, she works with a team to motivate employees, troubleshoot problems and focus on seamless patient visits.

In both jobs, the ability to meet and talk to people is important as is an openness to new ideas and an eagerness to learn.

Her route to Jackson came via her husband, Dr. Blake Matherne, a resident in the Department of Ophthalmology.

Together, they still cheer for the Saints, attend games when possible and visit home often.