Health Care

Health Care Heroes: Volunteer

By Staff Reports, posted Oct 16, 2020

Honors a volunteer at a health care provider or other health-related organization who is considered exemplary by people within those organizations. 

George Elam

Title: Volunteer and president, New Hanover Regional Medical Center Auxiliary Board of Directors 

Organization: NHRMC 

What the nominator said: “George Elam has been a volunteer at New Hanover Regional Medical Center for the past seven years, and in that time has made a difference for thousands of patients, families and staff. Frequently mentioned in patient surveys and recognized by staff, George has that rare quality in a person that is so impactful for a volunteer, especially in a hospital setting: the ability to identify and relate to those who need him most. 

“Two out of his three volunteer shifts each week, George volunteers in the Surgical Waiting Room at NHRMC’s Orthopedic Hospital. George also volunteers in the Surgical Pavilion on NHRMC’s main campus, where he helps patients and their families get where they need to go, always with a warm smile and an encouraging word to ease their worries. 

“Even volunteering at NHRMC three afternoons each week was not enough for George. He wanted to give back even more. Since 2016, George has served on the NHRMC Auxiliary’s Board of Directors, serving as the Chair of the Outreach Committee and most recently, as the Board president in 2020. 

“But what really sets George apart is his deep dedication to helping as many people as he possibly can.” 

- Erin Balzotti, director of volunteer and auxiliary services 

Lt. Constance Foreman

Title: Physician and Navy Reserve officer 

Organization: NHRMC Physician Group 

What the nominator said: “In addition to being a compassionate physician in the community, Dr. Foreman is a naval reservist. She recently completed a tour of duty in Guam to support COVID relief. While still away on deployment, Dr. Foreman accepted an invitation to serve on the founding board of the Honor Flight of the Cape Fear Area, where she chairs the marketing and communications committee.” 

- Ruth Ravitz Smith, president and founder of Honor Flight of the Cape Fear Area and RR Smith Strategic Solutions LLC, and NHRMC’s blog 

Smith said an NHRMC blog post from April also sums up Foreman’s commitment. The following are portions of that post: 

“Dr. Foreman, who is a Navy Lieutenant, joined the Navy Reserves in 2015 while still in residency and commissioned into a program called Training in Medical Specialties (TMS), which she said offered service time for her completion of residency. 

“‘In my family, I have representatives of all the military branches, but my biological father and two uncles, whom I respect very much, were Marines. ... I decided that this was how I could honor my family.’” 

Dan Kopchick

Title: Volunteer 

Organization: Lower Cape Fear LifeCare 

What the nominator said: “Dan Kopchick has been a volunteer with Lower Cape Fear LifeCare (formerly Lower Cape Fear Hospice) since 2017. During that time, he has served as a patient care volunteer – visiting over 30 hospice patients in their homes or at long term care and nursing facilities. He is a retired social worker who offers his time religiously and frequently is responsible for visiting with four or five patients and families at a time. 

“Dan’s willingness to take on patients that are sometimes difficult to ‘place’ with a volunteer is greatly appreciated. He will make that longer drive to visit a patient, will visit that person who is perhaps not so easy to be with and makes the lives of the people he is visiting better by his presence. ... 

“Dan has immediately jumped into the Dementia Pilot Program that was started at our organization – and is one of the first volunteers to serve both our dementia clients/families as well as our hospice patients. 

“Having a volunteer like Dan in the mix here at our agency is invaluable.” 

- Mary Warmkessel, volunteer services coordinator

Read more about all of the 2020 Health Care Heroes finalists here.

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