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Retired Exec Embraces Patient Care at Hospital

George Cammann always wanted to be a doctor. "Since I was a kid," he says. Though his path in life took him to a career with Pan American Airways, he's finally getting a chance to help patients as one of Norwalk Hospital's Volunteer Ambassadors.

"I heard about the program when they were setting it up five years ago," says the retired Darien executive. "The first time I came to the hospital I got completely lost."

Nowadays, Cammann knows his way around better than most, even with the construction that has changed the entry way. But his job isn't about guiding confused visitors to their destinations. Rather, it's to interact with patients, making sure they're getting the care they need.

Two days a week, Cammann makes the rounds of a floor of 27 patients, the same way doctors do. But instead of examining them physically, Cammann ascertains the patients' emotional well being.

"We try to ask open-ended questions," he says. "We ask about the food, their comfort level, do they feel they're getting adequate care from the staff." The answers are put into written reports that then go to the head nurse on the floor. "We give them the bouquets and the brickbats," Cammann says. If a patient has a minor issue, such as needing another pillow or having the TV fixed, Cammann or one of the other ambassadors will contact the proper person to take care of that.

Cammann says patients are more open about expressing their needs and complaints to someone who's not part of the medical staff, who can pass this feedback to the doctors and nurses so they can improve their level of care. Cammann says of the staff, "They're the most overworked, caring, considerate people I've ever met."

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