By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Over the past year, Randy Groop has collected bottles and cans around Bristol Hospital with the hope of using money to buy clothes for the emergency room’s most vulnerable patients.
From shirts to sweatpants to jackets, Groop will offer a variety to patients leaving the hospital.
“I collect them, return them, cash in the money, and I just…bought $100 worth of sweatpants and sweatshirts…so they have something warm to go home with,” said Groop, who works as an emergency room technicians.
This is just one way in which Groop tries to make a difference in the lives of patients who enter the emergency room on a daily basis.
This month, Groop was recently named “Health Care Hero” by the Hartford Business Journal.
“It was quite a surprise because I didn’t know it was coming,” said Groop, adding how his former manager and director nominated him for the award.
Groop starts his day at 6 a.m., and conducts a wide range of tasks from putting in special orders for the department to introducing himself to patients to stocking. He also draws blood for patients and does EKGs, as well as splinting and monitoring blood draws.
When patients enter the emergency room, Groop said he recognizes how scary the experience can be, so he uses his sense of humor to ease any fears.
“Everyone is scared when they come in or upset, they’re in pain,” said Groop, who tries to break the ice with patients. “You’re putting yourself in that other person’s shoes. You’re thinking about the other person.”
Groop was not always in the health care field. Before his career at Bristol Hospital, Groop ran his own construction/landscaping business. After his friends and family told him he should be working with people, Groop decided to receive his EMT certification.
Groop said Bristol Hospital was only one out of two hospitals statewide that had EMTs working in the emergency room, which impressed him.
Although he had no prior experience working that field, Groop was hired as an emergency medical technician. After working as an EMT for five years, Groop became an ED technician when the hospital decided to create an in-house position.
As 20 years have passed since he began working at Bristol Hospital, Groop said his desire to help people essentially inspired him to pursue a career in the health care industry.
Groop said every time a patient recognizes him or expresses appreciation for his service, he feels proud of the role he plays at the hospital.
“It means you meant something to them, you touched them…they feel grateful,” said groop. “It’s making that connection. To me, that’s the biggest perk.”
Looking back over the years, Groop said his job has brought happy memories, but they have also entailed sad and scary ones.
Groop recalled one of his first experiences in the emergency room in which his first EMS call involved an elderly woman who was assaulted by her tenant and tried to defend herself.
“She wouldn’t give the car keys to her tenant who wanted to steal her car,” said Groop, adding how a colleague noticed a frightened look on his face during that moment. “I’d never seen anything like that. That’s something I’m never going to forget.”
Groop was one of eight health care professionals honored for their commitment to helping others during the Hartford Business Journal’s annual Health Care Heroes Awards held at the Connecticut Convention Center held earlier this month.
Other Healthcare Hero finalists, included Dr. Daniel Scoppetta of the hospital’s Multi-Specialty Group and the Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, Tom LaPorte, a volunteer of the hospital’s Home Care and Hospice, Kimberly Carmelich of the Parent and Child Center, and Patricia Kenney, a nurse of the Post Anesthesia care Unit.
“I can make a difference,” said Groop, who also bought a small ultrasound machine doppler for his department. “The biggest thing is knowing you made a difference—that you actually touched somebody.”
By LISA CAPOBIANCO