All of that takes a lot of my time. My
time commitments have shifted as my
life has changed. When my kids were
little, I was the Sunday school teacher.
Everything went into my kids’ Sunday
school and their sports. Now, I do a lot
of other things that bring me pleasure.
My kids and my family and my give-back are all part of that. It’s all about
doing what makes you happy, I think.
Q How did you become an ombudsman?
I had a colleague who was
retained as an ombudsman for a hospital.
I have been a trustee in receivership and,
because of my experience in trust and
receivership work, he asked me to help
him review all the financials.
Every assisted living, long-term care,
or adult home in Nassau and Suffolk
Counties on Long Island has a dedicated
ombudsman to act as the advocate for
the residents. They offer this program
through volunteers because it would just
be too costly otherwise. Many people
in the ombudsman program are health
care providers, social work people,
educators, and there are a few financial
guys. I am probably one of the youngest
participants in the program. That’s really
as a result of the time that is required.
I’ve always made it my priority to
ensure that I give back. Personally it’s
very rewarding, and I’ve learned a lot.
Q How long have you been doing this?
I am in my third year, and
it took me eight or nine months to go
through the training program. I don’t
mean to imply that it’s eight months of
intense training. The training programs
are only done a few times a year, so the
process is all based on timing. You
complete an application and go through
an initial discussion. Then you come
back for an interview. You meet with
another group of people after that, and
then you go into the training class.
They don’t want anybody to be
surprised at the end, so they are
very clear about what the program
encompasses. You are dealing with
elderly people. You have to deal with
their health care providers, with the
business side of the environment,
and with their families, and it’s
emotional. You have to make sure
to segregate yourself out of it.
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I’ve had to deal with the personal and
emotional side in dealing with my
uncle and some other family members.
I really learned how the system works
and how to communicate with people
and let the health care providers
know that you’re there and available.
All those things, I think, have made
me a better ombudsman because
I’ve seen it from both sides. I get it.
I got a call the other day from the
activities director at my facility, and
she said, “I started this glee club. I
want to sing for one our past residents
who’s now in a long-term care
facility. What can you do for me?” In
the whole scheme of things, it’s not
really all that important, but to my
residents, it’s extremely important,
so to me it’s important, too. So now
we’re working with the activities
director through the ombudsman
program to allow them to do it.
Q What’s on your bucket list?
My goal is to be able to live
in different parts of the world for two to
three months at a time, and not just visit.
I’ve had this infatuation with living on
the Grand Canal in Venice, and I keep
telling my wife we’re going to live there.
I’m fluent in Spanish. I can understand
more Italian than I can speak. I’d like to
be able to communicate like a native.
I would love to live on the Great
Wall. There are communities in
China within the wall itself, and
you can go and live there.
They take people with certain
backgrounds to teach English as a
second language in places like Spain
or China or Japan. My son participated
in one for Spain, and it turns out they
do the same thing for adults. You stay
within their facilities, and you meet all
these people who are looking to learn
English. It’s all conversational, and you’re
exposed to their culture at the same
time. All of those things fascinate me.
I still want to get to Greece. I would
love to live in Capri in Italy for a couple
of months on an isolated island that’s
so beautiful and where you get to
know everybody. There are parts of
South America that are just beautiful
where I’d like to see if we could live
for a couple of months. I’m not so
much looking to rent a villa and live
like a king in Tuscany, but I wouldn’t
mind a little studio apartment in a
medieval city in Portugal for a while. J