Hospital tech's upbeat care helps pick up pace of heart patients' recovery
On the eighth floor at Florida Hospital, the sound of Canadian crooner Michael Bublé can only mean one thing: Steve Golub is walking a patient.

An elderly woman recovering from bypass heart surgery gently pushes a tricked-out walker Golub decorated with colored ribbons, flashing lights and a plastic parrot he somehow fashioned into a bicycle bell.

On a chain around Golub's neck is an off-brand MP3 player with a tiny round plastic speaker he attached with Velcro. The woman begins bouncing to Bublé.

I've got the world on a string, I'm sittin' on a rainbow …

Golub, 43, is an ambulatory technician and has spent the past six years getting patients on the hospital's cardiac rehabilitation floor up and about. His methods for coaxing them out of bed and in front of a walker — their oxygen tanks and rolling IV stands in tow — are unorthodox.

They're also funny, inventive and just plain sweet.

"He's a character. He's a Parrothead, too," said Carl Jones, 62, of Umatilla, referring to dedicated fans of Jimmy Buffett.

For Jones, who had just undergone triple-bypass surgery, walking around the hallways seemed a big undertaking. When Golub learned that Jones was a Buffett fan, he bought one of the musician's albums and saved it to a tiny memory stick, one of several he keeps tucked inside a small black case.

"It got him up and about," said Golub. "I figure it was the best $15 I ever spent."

Golub also bought Jones a flashing parrot lapel pin in recognition of Buffett.

"I've got a friend who sells blinkie things," said Golub, who pays for all gifts and music for patients out of his own pocket.

He recently bought a blinking Playboy cap for another patient. He has purchased other albums for patients to listen to during their walks. He has made them cherry-vanilla ice cream floats.

For one woman, who refused to walk without her box of tissues, Golub stuffed a bunch of tissues into the V-neck of his hospital scrubs and told her he would be her human dispenser.

"These things might sound dumb to some people, but it's the little things that put a smile on your face," said Golub. "I joke around a lot because I believe laughter is the best medicine. If you're old, or lonely, or just feel like you want to give up, sometimes all you need is someone to come in and perk you up for a few minutes."

As lunchtime approaches, Golub continues his rounds. In one room, he turns the channel to The Price is Right for a patient who he remembers likes to watch game shows. In another, he props a patient's feet up on an ottoman and covers her with a blanket.

In Room 8, Audrey Burch sits straight up in her bed and smiles when she sees Golub approaching.

"He's great. He walks with you, and talks with you," said Burch, 80, who was recovering from having a pacemaker put in her heart.

"I've gotten lots of marriage proposals from 80-year-olds and 90-year-olds," Golub said.

An Orlando native — born in the same place where he works — Golub began his career at Florida Hospital 22 years ago. He worked his way up from warehouse and truck-driving jobs to the front desk and eventually his current position.