Meet Health First’s Mercedes Ross, ‘Voice’ of Brevard County’s Fully Integrated Delivery Network
By Space Coast Daily // March 14, 2022
MERCEDES ROSS just celebrated 20 years at Health First last fall
Familiar and authentic, “capturing” but “comforting,” this Brooklyn-born Customer Care Operator, wife and mother says her almost-famous voice is spotted most by those who know her least.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – In a world with recordings so perfect they sound artificial – and artificial voices (Siri, Alexa) so life-like it’s uncanny –the voice of Health First is so much more familiar.
Thank you for calling Health First Provider Scheduling Department, the voice begins, clear and pleasant, but also, definitely New York, and perhaps bilingual.
“I think the voice gives you the impression that you’re getting good information,” says Walter Aucoin, the Systems Engineer responsible for bringing “Mercedes” online.
But Mercedes isn’t a Siri or an Alexa. She’s a wife, a mom, and a Health First Customer Service Operator. She greets callers to Health First Medical Group offices, service lines from Aging to Emergency Departments, labs and pharmacies, even Pro-Health & Fitness in Viera.
“Sometimes my customers will pick up on it over the phone. ‘Hey, are you the young lady on the recording?’” Mercedes Ross says.
“This one lady did say I should be a storyteller for children. I said, ‘Really?’ ‘Oh, yeah, you have that kind of voice.’ Well thank you for that!”
She’s picked up on a funny thing, through it all. The closer people are to her personally, the farther away the “Voice” becomes for them.
“Some of my coworkers don’t know it’s me. I guess I sound different face-to-face.”
And her family?
“They’re really oblivious. One day, I had to call for some procedure I needed. I called in, and I had it on speaker. I said to my husband, ‘You know who that is?’ – trying to play with him. He didn’t know at first. He had to pay really close attention. I told him, that’s me!
Once I got that reaction I didn’t bother to go to my son about it, like, ‘You ever hear these recordings? That’s your mom?’ No, I didn’t go there.”
20 Years at Health First
Mercedes Ross grew up in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Puerto Rican parents. She speaks Spanish fluently, for which she’s especially thankful given her role as a healthcare scheduler and operator.
She’s lived in Brevard County most of her adult life, met and married her husband here, and just celebrated 20 years at Health First last fall.
She voices her many greetings and menu details not in a studio but a quiet office down the hall, into a plain landline telephone. Aucoin sends her the scripts as Word documents, with pronouncers for the many Providers’ names.
For her, it all began with a request from a previous manager to voice some automated phone greetings. “She just asked me to do it, help out. I didn’t ask why” – and she didn’t think anything would come of it.
“Way back, we used to have call processing mailboxes and menu trees,” Aucoin says, and Ross was one of several who voiced greetings and selection choices, but Aucoin told her manager, “I like Mercedes’ voice! It’s elegant. It captures me. She accents the words properly.”
Today, on about 200 to 300 separate Health First lines, it’s her voice that greets callers. “So, she’s everywhere. And when I hear her voice, I think of Health First,” Aucoin says.
“We were always looking for the voice that was going to be the one voice for everything.”
Visit HF.org/news_and_events to find out what’s happening at Health First.