Letter to the Editor

Fort Scott Manor assigned ombudsman

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

By Milton J. Ackerman

I retired in the fall of 2004. My wife, who has several volunteer activities, thought I should do something besides stay at home, working in the garden. She received an ombudsman recruiting letter from AARP Kansas and suggested that I look into it, as she thought I might be a good fit for the program. I agreed and subsequently took training in the spring of 2006.

I was assigned to the Fort Scott Manor nursing home in May 2006. The Manor is a 52bed, skilled nursing facility that covers all aspects of nursing care. When becoming an ombudsman, I didn't realize what a life-changing experience it would be for me.

I wasn't sure what to expect on my first visit as I had heard all the horror stories about nursing homes. The administrator, Buck Fischer and his excellent staff soon changed my mind as to what a nursing home can be. Every time a resident has a problem, no matter how minor, Buck and his staff have promptly taken care of it.

Some of the residents have started calling me "miracle worker," but all the credit goes to the staff at The Fort Scott Manor. I have seen them do many acts of kindness for residents that probably are not a part of their job description. I have never seen them be upset or angry with any resident, no matter what the circumstance. The one consistent "complaint" that I get from most of all the residents is about the food. They say they are gaining weight because the food is so good.

I soon realized that I am the only visitor some of the residents get, so I make sure to see them every time I am at the Manor. One time I saw a resident in the hallway who asked me if I knew who she was and where her room was. I took her hand and walked her to her room. Some of the residents make me smile, because no matter what their circumstances, they are always smiling and happy. There is no greater reward than a resident, who cannot talk, taking your hand and, with their eyes, saying thank you for visiting them.

The hardest part of being an ombudsman is when a resident passes away. It is very difficult, as you have become friends with that individual. You feel as if you have lost a member of your family. My feeling is that I am a better person for having known that person.

I have been asked may times why I am on ombudsman. Besides the great satisfaction I get from doing this, I always think: What happens if I am in a nursing home and nobody cares or is committed enough to do this for me?

Editors note: The following article written by Fort Scott resident Milton J. Ackerman was published in the Volunteer Voice, the State of Kansas' Long Term Care Ombudsman Spring 2007 newsletter.