Chances are one of the first people a patient meets in a hospital will not be a doctor or nurse, but a hospital volunteer.
Greg Holtgrewe, volunteer coordinator at Western Baptist Hospital, said volunteers provide hospitality on behalf of the hospital. They communicate with visitors, patients and family, and help behind the scenes with some office tasks.
“Right now, we have volunteers in 16 departments, from outpatient registration to the information desk and in some nursing units,” Lourdes volunteer coordinator Shannon Courtney said. “We put them to work in different offices, too, like accounting, human resources, maintenance, food service and of course, in our gift shop.”
Holtgrewe said many volunteers are retirees who want to remain active and provide a service to the community. At both Western Baptist and Lourdes, volunteers must pass a background test and undergo an orientation.
“We have some students who volunteer,” Courtney said. “It’s an exceptional opportunity to learn about careers in the health care field. Several former volunteers have gone on to get their education and come back to join our family as employees.”
Holtgrewe said some volunteers deliver personal items and gifts for patients. Others may push wheelchairs for patients not receiving licensed care. They may take them to admissions from the parking lot, or back out to their cars after a procedure. He supervises 175 volunteers.
Courtney said she sees volunteers join for several reasons. Some want more activity, while others may have been impressed by the care they or a loved one received at a hospital. Some join because they are widows or widowers, and appreciate the care their spouse received. She supervises 173 volunteers. The oldest volunteer is 93, while the youngest is 15.
“We always need more volunteers and will find a person’s niche here or there,” Holtgrewe said. “Sometimes we may not have a need for a volunteer at a time when they can work, but we will keep contact information and try to find a place for anyone.”
To become a hospital volunteer, contact a hospital in your community or check its website for more information.