On a scale from one to five, Larry Hall says, NHRMC deserves a seven. And NHRMC volunteer Charles Groover deserves some of the credit.
Larry has been a dialysis patient for 18 years, and has been treated at the Willie "Pops" Stargell Dialysis Unit at NHRMC since 2007.
Three times a week, Larry arrives before 5:30 a.m. to sign in for his treatment, which typically lasts about three and a half hours. He brings candy to share, and he bides his time watching television and chatting with the staff. The staff on the dialysis unit have always been kind and helpful, said Larry, a former chemical process operator at GE.
And one volunteer has been especially helpful.
For the past few years, Charles Groover has greeted Larry in the parking lot with a wheelchair nearly every Monday morning, before the sun rises over Wilmington.
Before he met Larry, Charles' volunteer shift didn't start quite so early on Mondays.
But Charles, who also works evenings at the main information desk, knew that Larry could use some assistance. So he told Larry that he would come in early to help him out. And he's been doing it ever since.
"Charles is a fantastic volunteer and employee," said Eileen McConville, Director of Volunteer Services. "He really exemplifies the giving spirit of our volunteers. He will do whatever he can do to help any patient on any given day."
Charles wheels him in the Heart Center entrance, and they take the elevator up to the dialysis unit on the third floor. After Larry's treatment, he calls Charles' cell phone and waits for Charles to wheel him out.
On the way, they chat about pets and how Charles' grandkids are doing in their motorcycle races. Larry brags about his pristine white Ford pickup truck with more than 300,000 miles in its rearview mirror. After a 10-minute chat through the hallways at NHRMC and out the door, Charles puts the brakes on the chair, and Larry grabs his cane and climbs into his truck.
Larry doesn't hesitate to show his appreciation for Charles' help. If it's raining, Larry said, Charles will hold his own umbrella over Larry until he gets to his truck.
It's a small gesture that provides a little comfort, a little normalcy for a man who undergoes life-preserving treatment three times a week, every week.
Larry said he's grateful for the dialysis that keeps him alive.
"Some dialysis patients hate dialysis," Larry said. "But I don't."
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at NHRMC, please visit NHRMC.org.