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Stamford Caregiver Goes the Extra Mile

STAMFORD, Conn. — Robin Markell, community liaison for Fairfield Family Care in Stamford, has spent most of her life involved with health care in one way or another. It's a passion born from her own fight with cancer.

“It really helps you understand what people need for support,” said Markell. June will mark 25 years since she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Markell beat the disease and now throws herself into her work helping others, mostly seniors, with their health care needs.

“That whole experience made me sit up and pay attention. Surviving cancer can change your whole life for the better if you allow it to,” said Markell.

At work, she manages the 700 health care providers in Fairfield Family Care's database. She checks their credentials, training and background. When a new client signs up, it is up to Markell to determine the best fit, a process that involves interviews with the patients and with the providers to make sure everyone is comfortable. The happiness of the employee is just as important as making sure the highest quality care is given.

“The most important part is just to listen to their needs,” said Markell.

According to Fairfield Family Care director Gary Ferone, listening is only one skill that Markell has. She's been known to drop everything at a moment's notice to meet a client, he said. She has walked them through facilities and sat at their bedsides in the hospital.

Outside of her career, Markell is co-founder of Gilda's Club Westchester . The organization offers support and services for people whose lives have been touched by cancer. It is named for comedian Gilda Radner who suffered from ovarian cancer and died in 1989. Markell, a resident of Rye Brook, is also on the board for Hospice and Palliative Care of Westchester .

Hospice care is one of Fairfield Family Care's specialties along with Alzheimer's, dementia and Parkinson's disease. The staff Markell oversees can accomodate around the clock care or blocks as small as three hours a day just a few times each week.

In all of her roles, the key is making sure the connections between people work. “When it's the right fit, in any relationship, the result is lovely."

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