Former Healthcare Workers and Current Volunteers Give Back
“The community needs to know how hard clinicians work to take care of them,” Gordon said. “They don’t know you, but they take care of you. They are out there risking their lives to take care of yours. I have the utmost respect for them. I almost became a nurse, and Carol was going to support me. Ultimately, I changed my mind, but I was married to a nurse, and I don’t regret the path I took.”
Carol was working as a nurse when the two met in 1971. “April 12, to be exact,” Gordon, who had just returned from service in the Vietnam War, recalled. Carol trained Gordon and a team of corpsmen nursing assistants.
“We met in the recovery room at John Hopkins,” Gordon said. “She was my orientation nurse and she’s been orienting me ever since.”
“It never quite took,” Carol joked.
Gordon worked in various healthcare positions and eventually transitioned into purchasing manager at GBMC. In 1999, his position was eliminated but he returned to GBMC in 2008 to work in the Operating Room, where was until he retired in October 2017. Shortly after, he applied for a volunteer position at GBMC and now works in The Corner Shop.
Carol worked in direct patient care for many years before taking a job with the State of Maryland, handling quality assurance for long-term care. The stories she heard from patients and family members became difficult to manage emotionally.
“I would get calls from people whose family members were in nursing homes and the stories they told were just devastating,” Carol said.
She retired and began volunteering at GBMC in the finance department because, according to Gordon, “she is a wizard at spreadsheets.”
Both heard about The Promise Project through their work as volunteers and were excited about the prospect of more space to care for patients.
“I had a friend at GBMC, and you literally could not move around his room,” Gordon said. “There was no way to get to the bathroom without moving furniture. Now, I’m right in The Corner Shop and I can see the new [model] room. The bathroom is huge. There’s room to move equipment around and there’s a new space for visitors or someone who wanted to spend the night there. I was really impressed.”
When fellow volunteers and former Volunteer Auxiliary board chairs Bill Murray and Rodica Johnson presented a matching challenge to the rest of the volunteers, Carol and Gordon decided it was time to make their support for the project official.
“The challenge inspired me to donate. I’m just a little bit competitive,” Carol said, “I told Gordon, ‘We need to do this,’ So we did.”
The Christmyers’ support of The Promise Project directly impacts patient care by providing more space for the care team and the caregivers to support patients in their health journey. But it also supports the healthcare workers who will be utilizing these spaces, the same healthcare workers Carol and Gordon worked alongside for many years, healthcare workers like them who served patients selflessly.
“I don’t think people realize what nurses do taking care of patients, especially during COVID,” Gordon said. “Even on a routine, daily basis, they do a fantastic job. When I was a nursing assistant, I saw them fight for their patients to get what they needed. They want the best for their patients.”