IBM retiree helps patients and families manage the stress and anxiety of surgery

Jack Manning
“I feel that I do a good job
because I've been in their
situation,” says Jack
Manning, pictured here
in a painting by his wife Barbara.

Jack Manning
“I feel that I do a good job because I've been in their situation,” says Jack Manning, pictured here in a painting by his wife Barbara.

For much of his 29-year career at IBM, Jack Manning was responsible for the business well-being of his clients. Whether as a manager of an IBM help desk center, leading technical support programs, or overseeing a project office on customer satisfaction, Jack helped ensure his clients’ needs were met.

Today, in retirement, Jack is still advocating for clients—though now those clients are patients and family members at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, and it’s their medical needs and well-being he is supporting.

Trust in all relationships

Jack has been a volunteer at St. Joseph’s for 13 years, since about the time his wife passed away.

“I was impressed with the hospital and staff and how we were treated when my wife was a patient there,” he recalls. “During that time I became very familiar with the hospital logistics, and thought my knowledge could benefit others. After several months taking care of my personal business, I applied for a volunteer position in the surgical waiting area.”

St. Joseph’s Hospital, part of BayCare Hospitals, treats more patients in its level II trauma center than any other emergency room in Tampa, and utilizes the skills of caring volunteers to help those waiting for someone receiving medical attention.

“Everyone wants to see their loved one immediately after surgery,” says Jack. “As a volunteer I have to manage that situation and make them feel comfortable that the staff is doing everything they can.”

Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships is a core IBM value which Jack continues to embody as a volunteer—and trust is vital when the situations are emotionally charged, and concern life and death.

“I'll work with the nurses in recovery if I believe the family needs additional help coping with the situation,” Jack says. “The nurses trust me and know that I don't over react. Because of that they’ll consider my request to allow a family member to briefly see a patient before he or she goes to their room or intensive care.”

Communicating for positive outcomes

In 2013 Jack was asked to serve on the hospital’s patient advisory council because of his longstanding time at St. Joseph’s, both as volunteer as well as a family member whose loved one had received care there.

The mission of the council and its members is to find ways to improve customer and patient satisfaction—something he has professional experience with.

On the council, Jack’s been involved in audits to successfully address doctor-patient expectations, as well as issues raised by patients—working to create positive outcomes for all involved.

“At IBM, my greatest skill was my ability to communicate. I was just as comfortable speaking to the president of a company as I was with a computer technician. This gift has carried me through life and helps me communicate with people under stress at the hospital.”

Empathy that spans careers

While there are wonderful moments of recovery and recuperation at hospitals, Jack has also been a part of the sad occasions.

“I've been there when a man died from 12 bullet wounds. I've been there when a child died and witnessed the anguish of the family,” Jack says. “I've been there when a father who just lost his wife in an auto accident was told his 13 year old daughter had also died.”

He adds, “Working in the surgical waiting area can be difficult.”

Jack and other volunteers in his position cannot do anything to prevent these tragedies, but they are sometimes first responders in the emotional healing process.

“I feel that I do a good job because I've been in their situation and can relate to their stress and concerns for their loved one,” he says.

Being able to provide some degree of comfort in these difficult situations may be the ultimate in customer satisfaction—a bonus from Jack’s professional career dedicated to understanding his clients’ business pressures and a bittersweet ability born from his personal experience.

In fact, another project also gives him an opportunity to be an empathetic volunteer; for ten years he’s been an active member of a facial pain support group in his area.

“I remarried in 2009 and my wife is in remission for trigeminal neuralgia,” he says. “My support of her condition was greatly helped by the local support group. In the process, I’ve become a better care giver at home, as well as at the hospital, where I’m providing care in a different way than the medical team and staff members.”

At IBM Jack worked to delight business clients; in retirement he’s helping ease the anxiety of patients and their families in their healthcare experience.

“I get a great deal of personal satisfaction from this volunteer job, and believe I really help people feel better. In life, that’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”

Jack can be reached at

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