Saint Mary’s Volunteers; Making a Difference in the River Valley

Submitted by the SMRMC Community Relations Office

It’s 8 a.m. on Monday morning, and the Saint Mary’s census is already showing over 100 patients. The cafeteria is bustling with family and staff chatting about the past weekend and the upcoming week, when overhead the intercom repeats a familiar message, “Attention volunteers, we need a 16 to Same Day Surgery, a 16 to Same Day Surgery, please.”

To the unfamiliar, the message makes little sense. To the members of the Saint Mary’s volunteer auxiliary, it is a call to action. The staff in Same Day Surgery needs a volunteer with wheelchair training to assist a patient. Messages like this can be heard all day, everyday at Saint Mary’s. Volunteers may be needed to deliver X-rays, escort a new mother and her baby to their car, refill coffee in the surgery waiting room, or hold the hand of a nervous patient.

Volunteerism enables many people to stay active in the community and work alongside their peers. “It’s about taking part in the community and making a difference in the lives of our neighbors,” said Toni Mills, volunteer coordinator.

Volunteers at Saint Mary’s carry out specific duties that aid staff, guests and patients throughout the hospital. Some may assist with hospitality and clerical needs, while others serve as greeters and wheelchair escorts. Volunteering can be as simple as assisting at health fairs, reading to patients or assembling complimentary patient admit kits to provide patients with a few essentials they may need during their stay. It doesn’t matter the task or project, nor does it matter if you only have a small amount of time each week to give. Volunteer assignments are designated in four-hour shifts, and Saint Mary’s offers a variety of opportunities for all ages.

n addition to regular duty at the hospital, many volunteers contribute additional time to various committees within the program. The “Stamps for Soldiers” committee, for example, collects used postage stamps that are then donated to veterans’ hospitals. Wounded soldiers or those who may have suffered strokes clean paper from the stamps, which helps with fine motor skill rehabilitation. The Lifeline committee sets up Philips Lifeline medical alert systems inthehomesofthosesubscribingtothe service. Other committees include recruiting, newsletter and gift shop, to name a few.

Saint Mary’s volunteers are responsible for management of the hospital gift shop, Compliments. All monies collected as profit are contributed to nursing scholarships. Proceeds from two annual jewelry sales, sponsored and hosted by the auxiliary, are also donated to scholarships. In 2007, Saint Mary’s volunteers awarded a total of $3000.00 to student nurses.

Alongwiththebenefitsofbuildinglasting friendships and feeling the satisfaction of serving others in the River Valley community, Saint Mary’s volunteers enjoy discounts at Compliments Gift Shop and receive a regular newsletter. Each spring, an installation luncheon is held where new members are recognized and pins are awarded for members’ annual service. Volunteers also participate in hospital volunteer auxiliary conferences at the district and state levels.

The Volunteer of Excellence award is given annually to an individual who consistently goes above and beyond in service as a Saint Mary’s volunteer.

Each year, hospital employees submit names of nominees for the award. A winner is then chosen based upon criteria such as a volunteer’s responsibilities, the number of years given in service, the number of hours worked, and the person’s overall commitment and dedication to the Saint Mary’s team. Occasionally, the award is given to a couple rather than an individual, as was the case in 2007 for Woody and Evelyn Harris.

Well known for their long-time community efforts, the Harrises have volunteered at Saint Mary’s for more than a decade. Together they have given over 3,000 hours of service.

”We’ve enjoyed every minute of our work here,” Woody said. “It keeps us involved with the public and aware of what’s needed in the community.”

Mike McCoy, chief executive officer (CEO) of Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, expressed his gratitude to all hospital volunteers. ”Our volunteers are beautiful ambassadors for the hospital,” he said. “A volunteer may often be the first, and the last, person a guest sees here. The gracious and enthusiastic way in which they give of their time and talents to help others is truly commendable. They provide invaluable services to our hospital and our community, and we are thankful for all that they do.”

Volunteering can be personally satisfying, challenging and fun when one uses his or her skills, talents and time to benefit others. As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.” Saint Mary’s volunteers exhibit a continuous sense of volunteerism that lifts the spirits of those they come in contact with every day. With a current roster of 79 members, 60 active members collectively gave over 16,000 hours of service in 2007.

Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center is always looking for people to join its dedicated, energetic and enthusiastic volunteer team. For more information on the program or to become a volunteer, please contact Toni Mills at 968-2841. Applications are available at the hospital switchboard, just inside the main entrance, or can be accessed online at www.saintmarysregional.com.

 

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