Volunteers make a meaningful impact at Henry County Health Center
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
Whether it’s through a friendly smile, assisting with paperwork or helping keep little heads warm, volunteers play a vital role at Henry County Health Center.
In 2012, nearly 100 volunteers gave 7,228 hours — that’s over 300 days — to their local hospital. Volunteers serve in a variety of ways, but the most visible are those sitting at the information desk when patients and families first walk through the door.
“They are the smiling face that greets the people when they walk through the front door, so sometimes they’re the first person that will give an impression of the hospital,” said Jan Williamson, public relations assistant at HCHC. “The way that they greet them, the way that they look up, the way that they smile, the personal attention that they give them sets the tone for their whole visit.”
Williamson helps to coordinate the volunteers and lead them through orientation, and she said she always tells the volunteers that they provide a personal touch that helps anxious patients and family members relax when they arrive.
“A lot of the volunteers have kind of embraced that and have really stepped up and gone above and beyond, whether they are getting a wheelchair to take out to the car and helping bring the patient in while the family member parks the car, whether they provide an umbrella, walk them where they need to go or just talk to them and smile,” said Williamson. “They set the tone, really. That’s huge for the hospital, to have somebody down there that’s giving of their time and being there for that person.”
Shelley Doak, HCHC community relations/market manager, noted that having these volunteers to help direct people has become even more important during construction.
“We’ve always known how essential our volunteers are,” said Doak. “But now, during construction, we’ve really realized how essential they are, because they’ve really stepped up to staff two people at a time for the information desk to be able to help people.”
So far construction has mostly been on the exterior of the hospital, but there have already been temporary walls put up and hallways have been diverted as work has started to move inside the facility. As work progresses, the volunteers will become even more essential for guiding people to where they need to go.
“If the hospital is new to them, or they’re nervous about going to an appointment, your directions aren’t always spot-on,” said Doak. “Even if you know the hospital, you just might be pretty anxious, so it’s just great to have someone there to be able to show you where to go.”
Doak noted that this customer service provided by the volunteers helps in the overall patient experience at HCHC, and she credits the volunteers with helping HCHC receive a Hospital of Choice Award for 2012.
“It’s solely based off of customer service, and it showed that we excelled at customer service,” said Doak. “Our volunteers are just as key in that as our staff. They are just phenomenal, and we attribute their hard work to helping achieve that.”
Volunteers also assist in other areas of the hospital as well, such as
• Running the gift shop
• Assisting with alphabetizing and filing in the finance department
• Helping in the Ideal Protein office, diabetes education center and in the surgery department on cataract day
• Installing Lifeline (medical alert) units in people’s homes
• Crocheting baby hats for every infant born at the hospital (about 150 each year) and making Christmas stockings for babies born in December.
• Scheduling volunteers
• Assisting with fundraisers for the HCHC Auxiliary
Williamson noted that maybe in the future the program can expand to include more departments, but there are issues with confidentiality that need to be considered.
In regards to privacy, volunteers at HCHC are subject to the same confidentiality rules as the staff of the hospital.
“They are upheld to the exact same HIPPA rules and regulations that we are as staff,” said Doak. “They are basically treated like employees, and so along with that we have orientation. What goes with orientation is HIPPA training, and confidentiality is probably the biggest thing we emphasize.”
Currently the hospital has 99 volunteers, with 86 of them serving inside the hospital and 13 serving outside such as through crocheting baby hats or scheduling volunteers.
Volunteers mostly work during the day, so it can be difficult to find people who are available to help.
“That spreads them a little more thinly, so we always need somebody to help fill in,” said Williamson. “We welcome all new volunteers.”
If you want to volunteer at HCHC, call Williamson at 319-385-6524.