Karen Rumo is MHA Caregiver of the Year

Karen-Rumo-headshot-(002).jpg (Rockport & Augusta, Maine, June 19, 2019):  Karen Rumo, a psychiatric technician at Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, has been selected as the 2019 Maine Hospital Association Caregiver of the Year.

Since 2002, the MHA Caregiver of the Year Award has been given to a caregiver employed by a member institution who, on a daily basis, demonstrates extraordinary commitment to the delivery of care to patients and their families.  Rumo received her award Wednesday at MHA’s annual Summer Forum held at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.  News Center Maine Anchor Sharon Rose Vaznis presented the award.

Rumo’s co-workers wrote in support of her nomination, noting she cares for her fellow staff members as compassionately as her patients.  She is able to look past her patients’ psychiatric symptoms and see the human being behind the behaviors, her co-workers say.

In nominating Rumo, Claudia Henry, Spring Harbor’s director of clinical programming, said “Karen Rumo is the truest ambassador for supreme inspirational teamwork, selfless giving of herself to others and exemplary commitment to patient care excellence regardless of circumstances, day after day, year after year and decade after decade.  She is by far, a major cornerstone of this hospital’s foundation.”

Katie Ward, an occupational therapist with the hospital said, “(Rumo) is a human being (who) leads with love.  I have seen Karen deescalate clients’ crises that were only aggravated by any other person attempting to intervene, with a calm, reassuring manner and a kindness that can only come from the heart.  She stops what she is doing and gives her full attention to the person with whom she is interacting whether it is one of her clients, a coworker, or a visitor looking lost in the hall or cafeteria, new employees joining the team.  She instantly makes people feel comfortable, valuable, and important and this may very well be the first time experiencing this feeling for many of her clients, who have significant mental illness, abuse and trauma histories, and a lifetime of feeling disregarded and stigmatized.”

A passionate defender of patients’ rights, Rumo has served on the hospital’s Ethics and Patient Rights committees.

“Karen has insisted that the hospital always take the high road when presented with options,” said Jonathan Crimmins, patient rights liaison, at Spring Harbor Hospital and Maine Behavioral Healthcare.  “Karen’s dedication to integrity and doing the right thing is appreciated by those of us that know her.  For Karen doing what is right is more important than doing what is easy in the moment.”

 Rumo’s compassion and caring extends to her co-workers.  Person after person described her as the staff mother, always organizing celebrations, bringing in baked goods and providing support to those who need it. 

 "But above all, she puts patients first,” said Dawn Opstad, RN, charge nurse.  “She is a defender of patient rights, a guardian of patient safety and a steward of patient well-being.  She will always help a disheveled, unkempt patient bathe and find them clean clothes – and always with dignity and kindness.  Patients who have been coming to Spring Harbor for years always remember her fondly because she no doubt went out of her way to make them feel comfortable when they were in distress on their last admission.  She has high standards for patient care and safety and makes sure that each new staff member that she trains understands the importance of these concepts.  I cannot think of anyone who embodies the concept of exceptional caregiving the way that Karen does.”

Watch a News Center Maine Report about Karen

See Karen's acceptance speech