Next week we will be celebrating and thanking the volunteers in our hospitals and medical centers. April 15-21 is National Healthcare Volunteer Week. I have a heartwarming story to share that beautifully illustrates why volunteers are so deserving of being honored and celebrated.
Recently, I experienced one of those unexpected, simple moments in life that brings everything into perspective. I'm sure you'll make the connection as to why volunteers are such an important part of our lives.
I was helping take care of our new granddaughter, Kayla, and her brothers, Connor and Dillon. One afternoon my son and daughter-in-law took a late afternoon walk while I played Candyland with the boys and held Kayla. Kayla began to fuss and then cry. I did all the things you do when a baby cries - checked her diaper, walked, rocked and jiggled her. Dillon, her 3-year-old brother put his little hand on her cheek and whispered in her ear, "We're here for you. Don't cry. You're brothers are here for you and your biggest brother is winning at Candyland." It was the sweetest, most simple demonstration of love I think I've ever seen, and from a 3-year-old. My tears welled up and Kayla stopped crying for at least five or 10 minutes.
There is a heartwarming lesson in this honest, wise and simple reassurance from a 3-year-old. Even children instinctively understand that everyone needs to know someone is "there for them" and that gentle touch is calming. I have thought about this moment many, many times and every time my tears well up. I can't imagine how a 3-year-old knew to say and do that. I knew in that instant that Dillon had been raised with such love and understanding that I could feel my heart grow. I was so proud of him and his loving parents. A new generation filled with love, compassion and kindness has arrived and is teaching each other what really matters.
So, how do I tie this into volunteering? Oh, that's easy. I'm sure you've already made the connection. The presence of a volunteer says, "I am here for you." Their presence and kind words are priceless and essential, almost as important as food and shelter. A gentle touch on the shoulder or willing hands on a wheelchair is a wordless expression of "I am here for you." Just knowing someone is here for us is all we need to know sometimes. It's like medicine to the soul.
At Trinity Regional Medical Center our volunteers are here for you every day in a multitude of ways. Here's just a few of the things they're here for:
When you need a friendly escort to a physician's office, patient room or anywhere on campus, they are here for you and waiting to walk with you or transport you by wheelchair. They are also direction experts. If you're lost, they instinctively detect it and come to your aid.
Our volunteers are here for you in the Critical Care and Same Day Surgery waiting rooms visiting with anxious family members, offering directions or escorts anywhere on campus and serving as a referral source for questions. Time spent in those waiting rooms can seem endless to concerned family and friends. Volunteers help that time to be less intimidating and pass much more quickly.
Volunteers in Endoscopy, the Pain Center and Same Day Surgery are here for you by serving patient nourishments and escorting discharged patients by wheelchair to their waiting car.
Volunteers serve as a companion to our patients prior to undergoing cataract or eye surgery. They visit with patients as they wait to be wheeled into the operating room, ensuring they are warm, comforted and at ease. Five or 10 minutes when your eyes are dilated can seem like an eternity when you're alone - our volunteers assure you are not. Isn't it comforting to know a volunteer will be here for you?
Volunteers are always here for you in our gift shop ready to welcome you to a friendly, engaging environment of escape and a change of pace. They offer gift suggestions if you want them or simply a kind smile if you just need a place to "lose yourself" for a few minutes. They are expertly trained as customer service experts, gift consultants and hospitality specialists.
Our volunteers are here for you as they patiently and expertly offer Senior Health Insurance Information Program information to people needing help with Medicare Part D programs or understanding the role of Medicare in their retirement. They are also here for you to help install and kindly explain how a Lifeline reduces the risks of living alone in the event of a fall or emergency.
In these roles and many more, our volunteers will be here for you at Trinity Regional Medical Center wearing their trademark blue vest and a smile. Behind those smiles are open hearts and a genuine desire to serve you.
And, Trinity Regional Medical Center is here for you when you need expert, compassionate clinical care. Every one of our staff is here for you, offering you our expertise in our specialized areas. We truly care about you in all aspects of your medical experience.
I personally offer my deepest and heartfelt thanks to all our volunteers for being here for our patients, visitors and guests. I'm sure it comforts you to know they are here for all of us ready, willing and able to open their hearts and offer their hands to whoever needs them. If you'd like to be part of our "here for you" team of volunteers, call me. I will be here for you.
Kathy Moe is director of volunteer services at Trinity Regional Medical Center.