DALTON, Ga. – Hamilton Medical Center Volunteer Pam Ackerman was awarded the prestigious Georgia Hospital Heroes Award at the Georgia Hospital Association’s (GHA) Annual Meeting on Nov. 11. Ackerman, who was one of only 10 individuals statewide to receive the award, was recognized for her support of patients, families and hospital staff through her work as a volunteer.
Ackerman began working as a volunteer at the hospital in 2011. It wasn’t long before her positive impact on patient care and value she brought to the hospital became evident. One instance in particular illustrates this value: A call came into the hospital’s volunteer center regarding a woman who had been seen walking unsteadily behind a wheelchair outside the front entrance. Ackerman went outside to see if she could be of any assistance. As she approached her, she sensed the woman was in severe distress. Ackerman gently began a conversation, during which she learned the woman was dealing with the unimaginable shock of losing her newborn baby. On top of that, the woman knew she had to be strong for her other children but did not know how to face them or tell them what happened.
Ackerman guided the woman back to her room and comforted her as best she could. Upon arrival, the woman asked to share some of the baby’s belongings with Ackerman. Together, they delicately handled the baby hat, the coming-home outfit, the ID bracelet and other items that had been placed in a box given to her by the nurses. The box also contained a journal in which Ackerman encouraged the woman to write down some of her thoughts. Ackerman also shared information on grief counseling and helped the woman begin the difficult grieving process.
Although being a strong emotional support for the woman was taxing for Ackerman, she knew she needed to stay with her during this extremely tough time. She sat with the woman for hours, staying through the end of her shift and the next. Ultimately, she ended up staying with the woman until she was discharged, offering words of support and encouragement the entire time, helping her continue the healing process.
“Hamilton Medical Center is fortunate to have the support and dedication of Pam Ackerman,” said GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers. “Her personal commitment to bond with patients has made a huge difference in their lives and their overall patient care experience. She is a most-deserving recipient of this award.”
Established in 1929, GHA is the state’s largest trade organization of hospitals and health systems providing education, research and risk management services to its more than 170 hospital and health system members. Additionally, it represents and advocates health policy issues benefiting Georgia’s citizens before the state legislature and U.S. Congress as well as before regulatory bodies.
Photo: From left are Sandy McKenzie, Hamilton Medical Center COO; Pam Ackerman, award recipient; Mark Ackerman, recipient’s husband; and Shelia Baker, Hamilton Medical Center director of Patient Experience and Organizational Development.