Cairns and Baker receive Patriot Award

Bruce Cairns, MD, director of the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, and Mary Lee Baker, RN, associate director of ambulatory care, were nominated for the award by Burn Center physician assistant and U.S. Army reservist Captain Chris Trum.

Cairns and Baker receive Patriot Award click to enlarge Dr. Sam Jones, the 'CairnsBot,' Captain Chris Trum, Mary Lee Baker, and Master Sargent (USARF) retired Arbrister Gowdy, of North Carolina ESGR.

At a small ceremony in the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, Dr. Bruce Cairns and Mary Lee Baker each received a Patriot Award.

The Patriot Award is presented through the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), an office of the U.S. Department of Defense that works to promote cooperation between reservists and civilian employers. The Patriot Award is one of several awards given by the ESGR to employers that do an outstanding job supporting their military personnel. Reservists can nominate individual supervisors for the Patriot Award as a way to recognize their support. 

“Mary Lee, Dr. Cairns and the whole staff at the Burn Center went out of their way to make my departure and my return as seamless as possible,” said Captain Trum, of the 7236 Medical Support Unit, out of Fort Bragg. “They did a great job of helping me and my family during my deployment and they accommodated me when it was time for me to get back to work.”

Cairns, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, was unable to attend the event in person because he was recovering from a recent heart attack. Instead, Cairns joined his staff remotely via Skype with the help of telemedicine technology recently acquired by the Burn Center. As Cairns spoke to the group, the team in the Burn Center put a white coat on the equipment and affectionately dubbed it CairnsBot.

“I haven’t been back to the Burn Center since my event,” Cairns said at the ceremony, “but I can’t think of a better reason to unite all my wonderful friends and colleagues here than to celebrate something that means so much to all of us.”

The awards were presented by Master Sargent (USARF) retired Arbrister Gowdy, of North Carolina ESGR. Dr. Sam Jones, assistant director of the Burn Center, stepped in for Cairns to accept the award.

Captain Trum has been a U.S. Army reservist since he finished his training as a physician assistant six years ago. In August 2014 he was mobilized, spending nearly a year away from his family and his colleagues at the Burn Center.

During his deployment, Captain Trum served with his unit at a mobilization site in Fort Dix, New Jersey.

“Troops move through the site prior to their deployment out of country, and come back through when they are done with their deployment,” he said. “It was our job to assess returning troops for any medical or emotional needs that might require addressing before they returned to their reserve unit.”

After helping reservists transition back to civilian life, Captain Trum was grateful for the opportunity to recognize those who have supported his own service.

“I knew about the award before I left,” he said. “When I deployed I put them up for it so that everything would be prepared when I came back.”

When Captain Trum returned from his deployment, he was able to surprise Cairns and Baker with the award. Now back to work at the Burn Center, Captain Trum is grateful for the support he has received.

“Mary Lee and Dr. Cairns made it easy for me to do what I needed to do for the Army and they were so welcoming when I came back that it made the transition easy,” he said. 

To read more stories about veterans and reservists at UNC Medical Center, visit our military news page.  

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