Chuck Ackerman

May 3, 2023
A photo of Chuck Ackerman
Chuck Ackerman

Home for Christmas? You can count on him

Given only weeks to live, the father had one desire on the morning of Christmas Eve. He wanted to go home.

Staff at Memorial Hospital Central hustled to meet the man’s wishes, and by mid-afternoon, the man was home on his couch and watching television. Family members gathered, and they turned the lights of the Christmas tree on.

The patient’s ability to walk wasn’t the greatest. His sister asked if Memorial could set her brother up with a life alert button that would activate in the event her brother fell. She considered it a long shot to get such a service on Christmas Eve.

Chuck Ackerman, a Memorial employee for 28 years, the last 15 years as the manager of Memorial’s Home Companion Monitor program had been riding a horse at the home of his mom and dad in Peyton, and driving back to his home in Castle Rock when he got the call that a request had been made by a patient’s family.

“No problem,’’ he told his boss. “Give me a couple of hours and we’ll get it set up this evening.’’

Ackerman jumped in his truck and drove to Colorado Springs, arriving at the patient’s home before sundown.

“Thank you for coming on Christmas Eve,’’ the sister said as she welcomed Ackerman to her brother’s home.

“I didn’t think twice about it,’’ Ackerman said. “I’m happy to help.’’

Ackerman set up the Life Alert system. It took a little longer to do so because the technician on the other end of the phone line was new to her position and filling in for another worker over the holiday. Ackerman tested the monitor to make sure it worked and hung the button like a necklace around the patient’s neck. He showed the patient how it worked.

Ackerman had done his job. He wished the man and his sister a Merry Christmas. He got in his truck and drove back to Castle Rock.

“I’m an old soul,’’ he said. “I believe we have to take care of each other. If we’re able to help someone out, we should. I often get the opportunity to help people, and it’s a blessing.’’

The Life Alert button is offered to patients during the discharge process at Memorial. It helps patients at risk of falling and helps patients stay in their homes, rather than having to go to an assisted living facility.

That Christmas Eve, Ackerman gave a patient and his family the gift of his presence and the solemnity of peace of mind.

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About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.