Carol B. Bauer, formerly from New Canaan and still active in the town, was a recipient of the Connecticut Hospital Association 2012 "Healthcare Hero Award" for her dedicated, compassionate service as chaplain in the spiritual care department at Norwalk Hospital, as well as for her many other contributions. The award was presented to her at the annual meeting of the Connecticut Hospital Association on June 27.

Her impact on patients, their families, and staff is legendary due to her decades of involvement -- from president of the volunteer board to chairman of the Board of Trustees.

The Rev. Debra K. A. Slade, BCC, director of spiritual care at the hospital, nominated Bauer for this award.

"If you came to Norwalk Hospital, it would only take a few minutes for you to see how much Carol is loved by everyone in the Norwalk Hospital Community," she said. "She is greeted with hugs, smiles and warmth."

She is truly an extraordinary woman, and her devotion to Norwalk Hospital is unparalleled, Daniel DeBarba, president and CEO of Norwalk Hospital, said.

Bauer specializes as a chaplain in maternal/child health assisting in the Childbirth Center at Norwalk Hospital, but she also helps minister to all hospital patients and staff and responds to emergencies throughout the hospital whenever she is present.

Bauer, who also volunteers for many other charitable organizations, wears a 24/7 pager and can be summoned to the Childbirth Center at any hour of the day and night.

"When parents are grieving a loss, chaplain Carol journeys with them no matter how long it takes," Slade said. "Her loving, emotional, and spiritual support help to shape the tragic loss in a way that provides care, support, and holiness to an unbelievably difficult time. If requested, she prays with the family and uses rituals to make the experience sacred."

The Rev. Slade explained that ministering in the case of fetal demise is one of the most challenging experiences for chaplains.

"Chaplain Carol helps to dress the baby and encourages the parents and family members to hold the baby as long as needed. She makes sure that every mother experiencing this loss receives a vase of roses and a memory box to bring home to cherish and remember their child," Slade said. "Chaplain Carol makes a sincere connection with people through her commitment, her own strong faith and her love and empathy for everyone she meets."

Bauer has a long history of service to patients of Norwalk Hospital and to the community. She was a former president of the volunteer board and was the chairman and founder of the emergency department reception volunteers. She also volunteered in the newborn intensive care unit and in other hospital departments.

A hospital trustee for 19 years, Bauer became the first woman elected as chairman of the Board of Trustees. This was a voluntary leadership position, in which she worked to advance the caring mission of Norwalk Hospital. Bauer and her husband George, a current member of the Board of Trustees, have not only provided their service, leadership and vision to Norwalk Hospital; they have also supported the hospital philanthropically.

On a historic occasion for Norwalk Hospital on Dec. 10, 1996 during the annual meeting, George Bauer spoke of his love and admiration for his wife, and then of her love and dedication for the people and programs of Norwalk Hospital. He also addressed their shared confidence in the ongoing vitality of the hospital. It was at that time they announced their leadership contribution of $2 million toward the expansion and redesign of the emergency department, which became the Bauer Center for Emergency Care. This year, the Bauer's gave another extraordinary gift, $2.5 million, to help enhance and expand the Emergency Department, which was made possible by their generous gift in 1996.

Their philanthropy over the years has also enabled the establishment of The Jeffrey Peter Bauer Newborn Intensive Care Unit, as well as endowed the Carol Bauer Nursing Scholarship Fund.

Carol Bauer co-chaired the steering committee for the New Century Campaign, which raised $20 million for Norwalk Hospital. She served on the board of the former Honey Hill Care Center and was a founding member and secretary for the Board of Directors of the Norwalk Hospital Foundation.

In 1995, Carol Bauer received the "Philanthropist of the Year Award" from the Fairfield County and Connecticut Chapter of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals for her generosity to Norwalk Hospital. In 1997, both George and Carol Bauer were presented The Norwalk Hospital Centennial Society "Bedford Family Award" for demonstrating their "love for mankind" through their philanthropic support of Norwalk Hospital.

For her significant and countless contributions and many years of dedicated service to Norwalk Hospital, Carol Bauer was named an honorary lifetime trustee. She is also the only non-physician member of the Norwalk Medical Society for which she was named an Honorary Member for her many contributions toward the betterment of medicine. Carol Bauer also serves on the Board of AmeriCares, a large humanitarian organization supporting free clinics in Connecticut and healthcare needs across the globe.

"Norwalk Hospital is fortunate to be the beneficiary of Carol Bauer's warmth, kindness, wisdom, leadership, energy and dedication," DeBarba said. "She truly is a Healthcare Hero."

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