One moment Caring Hearts volunteer Norbert Schulz was standing. Then, he felt light-headed and couldn’t move his feet. As he crumbled to the floor, Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital staff came running to start CPR. When he regained consciousness, Norbert saw the anxious faces of hospital people he knew.
“I calmed way down,” he said. “It’s going to be all right. These people are the best in the world.”
On that day — September 8, Norbert planned to work his regular volunteer shift from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Instead, he experienced a heart attack, standing outside the nurses’ station in the cardiac catheterization lab at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital.
Once revived through CPR, the medical staff immediately took Norbert to the emergency department — a place very familiar to him. His first Baylor Scott & White Health volunteer experience was in that emergency department.
“It was very confusing, seeing all these familiar faces in a thick mental fog,” Norbert said.
A Baylor Scott & White volunteer since 2009, the retired chemical engineer is no stranger to hospitals. As a child, Norbert accompanied his father, who was a surgeon, on weekend hospital rounds and then house calls.
“Every New Year’s Eve, my father would get calls from 15–20 people who thanked him for another year,” Norbert said. “That made an impact.”
Norbert makes his own impact. When he volunteered in the emergency department, Norbert looked for anxious faces in the family waiting area. Maybe a parent worrying about a child who was in the clinical treatment area? Sitting down beside them, Norbert would ask, ‘what brought you here today?’ Then he’d find the right treatment team and give the waiting family a brief update.
Now a Caring Heart volunteer at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital, Norbert helps families get updates from surgeons and nursing staff.
“The object is to put people in the right places to get the doctors and family together post-surgery,” he said.
Families may leave a waiting area or scatter into smaller groups. Norbert pulls them back together.
“It’s like herding wet kittens,” Norbert said.
Following his unexpected cardiac event and implant of a cardiac stent by Robert Stoler, MD, on the medical staff at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital, Norbert took a break from volunteering. Later, Alan Donsky, MD, an electrophysiologist on the medical staff at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital, implanted a defibrillating pacemaker, a medical device that can shock Norbert’s heart back into correct rhythm should another arrhythmia episode occur.
But he returned to volunteering the week of November 14 because Norbert likes to stay busy. He enjoys greeting Thomas who mans the main Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital entrance, assisting patients as they arrive.
Norbert delivers a cheery ‘good morning’ from the front desk team before he heads to second floor for another day of helping patients, their families and hospital staff.
“Hospitals are a special place for me,” said Norbert.