22 April 2010

What Does Joan Do?

It's Volunteer Week and a good time to clarify what the heck I actually do.

We are fortunate in this country to have so many people willing to do unpaid work supporting the causes they believe in, that we actually need people to coordinate their efforts. That would be me. I am the Director of Volunteers for Roper St. Francis Healthcare and I coordinate the day to day program at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital.

I have over 450 active volunteers between the ages of 14 - 96 in our facilities in any one month. Last year our volunteers served over 82,000 hours. Amazing.

In health care the processing is so complicated I am lucky that I have any volunteers at all.

The idea is, if a hospital employee is required to go through safety, infection control, privacy training, health screenings, backgrounds checks etc. to keep our patients safe, why wouldn't we have to do that for someone who is working for free? We do.

My life is processing. I am contantly orienting, placing and training a rolling roster of volunteers of all ages who come to serve. These folks make an great difference in the service we offer and many do it because someone helped them when they most needed it.

Volunteers welcome and greet, help with clerical support, fill water pitchers and help feed, make rounds on patients, push wheelchairs, help in the nursery and drive golf carts. I have a singing volunteer, a couple of clowns and pet therapists whose trained dogs wear official hospital ID tags. We regularly get letters and phone calls grateful for the kindness of this cast of incredible characters that have gathered determined to make a difference.

We have a great reputation for helping students on career tracks and the hospital is well staffed with young professionals who started in my office. I have student mentoring programs, career evenings and a summer camp. I am fortunate to work with a wonderful staff who welcome and teach students interested in health careers.

It's Volunteer Week! Volunteers are working all over this city adding to our quality of life in ways we can't imagine. I hope I say it every day, but thank you, thank you, thank you volunteers.