Volunteer embodies the characteristics of an extraordinary employee
Ten years ago, Ammar Sakkal was in the throes of a stressful career. So, he did an extraordinary thing most wouldn’t even consider: He sought out what he thought would be an even more stressful volunteer position.
“I was very scared of ERs,” Sakkal said. “I thought maybe if I go to volunteer somewhere more stressful, I won’t feel so stressed at work — and it actually worked.”
His first shift in the emergency department at Poudre Valley Hospital was the only one available, from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
A decade later and now retired from his stressful job, Sakkal continues volunteering. He’s landed better hours in a newly remodeled, spacious ED, where it is as busy as ever.
Sakkal enjoys every moment of it.
Over the years, he has built such a trusting relationship with the ED staff, that they have actually named a day of the week after him: Ammar Mondays.
“Ammar is so engaged with the patients and the staff,” said Maggie Schump, associate nurse manager. “He always comes in with a smile and a massive bag of chocolate (for the staff). You can tell he wants to be here.
“It’s not easy to work here. He embodies the characteristics we look for in our staff.”
Sakkal’s respect for the staff is mutual.
“This is an amazing group of people, and it feels to me that they are never stressed,” he said. “They see everything that comes through the ER and are always smiling. I don’t know how they do that amid chaos, but they really care about the patient.”
Sakkal cares deeply, too. Recently, the ED staff initiated “comfort rounding” on geriatric patients as the team works toward receiving geriatric accreditation from the American College of Emergency Physicians. Sakkal has been a big player in the initiative’s success because he has a gift for recognizing others’ needs and a gentle way with people.
“He takes beautiful care of our patients and staff,” said Amy Conboy, the charge nurse on Monday nights. “He has such a loving, peaceful presence. We are so lucky to have him on our team.”
Along with rounding on geriatric patients, nurses count on him to help with other patients who are stressed out because they are in an ER.
“The biggest problem in the ER is just waiting, waiting for results; waiting for doctors. I step in and see if they need anything: blanket, pillow, water or a drink for their visitor,” Sakkal said.
“With this new (rounding) program, I walk in and start chatting. Some don’t want to talk, and you have to respect that, but a lot will. You must be able to read the room. Many are just waiting and appreciate chatting with someone.
“I hope that by spending time with them, I’ve made their experience better. I want them to have that better experience, beginning in the ER.”
If you ask staff, he’s been improving their lives too. For them, Ammar Mondays is something they always look forward to.