By Kay Quinn Healthbeat Reporter
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - A local eye doctor is up for a big honor. In October, he'll find out if he's the winner of an award that's called the Oscars of the federal civil service.
The news comes as no surprise to his patients.
"My goodness that man is busy!" said V.A. eye patient Jerry Reeves.
It's something many patients can say about almost any doctor.
"I've got two sons I'm proud of, and I wish he was my son," said Reeves.
But it's not often a doctor makes a patient feel like a member of the family. Like they're the only patient, when in reality there are so many more.
"That's the most rewarding part of the whole experience," said Dr. David Vollman, an ophthalmologist at the V.A. St. Louis Healthcare System, John Cochrane Division.
The feelings are mutual for Dr. Vollman. He's a staff ophthalmologist who performs cataract surgery at the V.A. St. Louis Healthcare System, John Cochrane Division.
But it's Dr. Vollman's research that's brought him national attention. He's one of three finalists for the national Call to Service Medal for his research that shows cataract surgery outcomes at five regional V.A. hospitals were just as good as outcomes at private hospitals.
"There's always concern, is there a difference between the public and private sector?" explained Dr. Vollman. And fortunately for us it showed that we're doing things that our outcomes are consistent with what we're finding in the private sector."
So, while patients love him for restoring their sight, Dr. Vollman will find out in October whether he'll win the medal that's often called the Oscars of the civil service. He's the only employee in the entire VA system to be nominated for the Call to Service medal in 2013.
"It's so special," said Dr. Vollman.
Each year it goes to a federal worker under 35, with less than five years of service.
"It's an award to recognize people who are doing things early in their career to make an impact," said Dr. Vollman.
Dr. William Gay is the chief of staff of the V.A. St. Louis Healthcare System, John Cochrane Division.
"To have only one person and have that person be Dr. Vollman we're very proud of that," said Dr. Gay.
But studies and awards aside, it's what Dr. Vollman is able to do for his patients that's his real passion. Like removing their cataracts. Literally restoring their sight.
"He took the patch off and I went wow I can see again. I didn't realize I was that blind," said patient Barbara Thomas. "All I could say for really a week was wow!"
And easing their minds.
"I've had a rash from worrying," explained Reeves. "That's gone. He helped my mind not just my eyes, he helped my mind."