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P/SL Volunteers: Lynn

Volunteer Uses Personal Experience to Ease Patient Fears

Even the most routine surgery is cause for stress, but for family and friends marking time in the Presbyterian/St. Luke’s surgical waiting room, volunteer Lynn Gordon’s calm demeanor and friendly face makes the waiting a little less stressful.

Gordon, a retired high school teacher, can be found on Tuesday afternoons in the waiting room or visiting patients on behalf of the Limb Preservation Foundation, an organization that provides support and education about limb-threatening conditions. The hospital and the Foundation merged in Gordon’s own experience two years ago when one of her legs had to be amputated. "I got amazing care here. I was totally impressed with everyone I came into contact with," she says. So, when she recovered she went through volunteer training.

"I don’t like to just sit. I want to do things. I like to deal with patients and families in crisis. I feel I can use the skills I have from teaching. I’m a good listener and I like feeling needed. Doing it here is not very different from doing it with students," she says.

Her own experiences are a definite asset in her volunteer work. One example she offers is visiting with a woman and her family before the woman was to undergo an amputation. "She was pretty good, but her family was pretty freaked out," Gordon says. They had no idea what to expect. "I asked them, 'Do you want to see?' and I took my prosthetic off and passed it around. Her husband said it made a big difference."

In another recent encounter, "I talked to a guy who was having a knee replacement. He was very reluctant until I told him that I am an amputee and he came back with 'You made my day.' I live for moments like that," she laughs.

Gordon says that when she was a teacher at Denver's George Washington High School she didn't have time to volunteer. "Now I’m making up for it."

Learn More About Volunteering at P/SL