Friday, July 19, 2019

Windham resident hopes to spread awareness of mental illness through her 2019 Caregiver of the Year Award

Karen Rumo
By Lorraine Glowczak

It has been said that Karen Rumo of Windham has an amazing gift of profound caring for others - and that gift won her an outstanding award that is rarely found among her contemporaries. On Wednesday, June 19 Rumo, who is a Psychiatric Technician at Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook received the Caregiver of the Year award at the Maine Hospital Association’s (MHA) annual Summer Forum held at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. News Center Maine Anchor Sharon Rose Vaznis presented the award.

According to the (MHA) website, the Caregiver of the Year Award has been given to a caregiver employed by a member institution who, on a daily basis, demonstrates extraordinary commitment to the delivery of care to patients and their families.

"If someone is feeling anxious or they look frightened, she knows how to approach them and to help calm them down, de-escalate them, and help them get what they need," stated Mary Jane Krebs, President of Spring Harbor Hospital in a June 19 publication written by Vaznis.

Rumo is a 1984 graduate of Windham High School and has worked in the field of mental health for 33 years. Her dedication to helping others in a field that is very challenging to serve is admirable. While others in her profession tend to experience burnout, Rumo’s passion only grows.

She serves on committees, trains new employees and goes the extra mile for patients and staff alike. “Passion and caring for others are the foundation for any job you might have,” Rumo began. “And for me, if it benefits our patients – then I’m going to do it.” a recent interview, Rumo’s enthusiasm for her life’s work was evident and her excitement filled the room. “I had no clue that I was nominated,” began Rumo. “In fact, I didn’t even know such awards existed and I feel so honored to have been nominated and selected as the winner.”

The Caregiver of the Year Award has been presented to medical professionals since 2002 and it’s the first time that this award was given to someone who works on the front line, working directly with the patients in a technician’s position.

Rumo was nominated by a longtime coworker and friend, Claudia Henry. Henry, who wrote the required 500-word essay and collected testimonials for the application process, is the one who called to let Rumo know the good news. “When Claudia called to tell me I had been selected, she said, ‘Karen! This is like winning the Oscars in Hollywood!’”

Much like the Oscars, Rumo had to prepare an acceptance speech. She admitted she was a little nervous, but it didn’t prevent her from sharing some very important messages. “In my speech I wanted to convey that a person does this work because their heart is in it and they want to make a difference in people’s lives,” Rumo stated. “Making a difference can happen in many different ways. There are times people arrive at the hospital with just a medical gown and come with no other clothing. Making a difference can simply be finding a shirt in the donation box so the person is more comfortable.”

Her hope that the attention she has received with winning this award can bring about more awareness in the mental health field. “There is still so much stigma surrounding mental health and it is my hope that this perception changes,” Rumo stated. “In some form or fashion, we all experience our own mental health issues. If there are emotions, there is going to be mental health issues that come up.”
Rumo’s greatest message is kindness, understanding and sympathy. “No matter who you come in contact with, everyone has a story, and everyone has something to contribute. Since we don’t know the whole story of an individual’s life, it is best that we do not judge – but to be kind to one another.”

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