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February 28, 2012 > Volunteers Take Center Stage at Washington Hospital

Volunteers Take Center Stage at Washington Hospital

Service League Highlights Accomplishments at Annual Business Meeting

If you have ever been a patient at Washington Hospital, volunteers were probably the first and last people you saw. They greet patients and visitors in the front lobby, discharge patients after their hospital stay, and perform many duties in between. Volunteers can be found in nearly every area of the hospital and are an integral part of the day-to-day operations.

The Washington Hospital Service League announced its recent accomplishments at its annual business meeting on February 13, where they honored the dedicated volunteers who generously give their time. Service League volunteers work closely with hospital professionals to help provide care and support to patients, families and visitors. Last year, volunteers donated more than 45,000 hours of service to the hospital.

"Volunteers do a lot of important work at the hospital," said Maria Artuz, outgoing president of the Service League whose term ended this month. "Over the last two years, I've spent most of my volunteer hours at the lobby desk, in the library, and in the surgery waiting room."

The hospital has nearly 600 volunteers like Artuz who help out in a number of ways. They comfort families and patients in the surgery waiting room, critical care unit, oncology center, and in the emergency room. Volunteers deliver flowers, take pictures of newborn babies, help people find books and videos in the library, offer free osteoporosis and blood pressure screenings, cuddle special-care babies, and coach joint replacement patients following surgery. Volunteers sell items in the gift shop; collate forms; deliver charts, pharmaceuticals, and specimens; make quilts, make gifts for new babies and their mothers, make puppets for children that are seen in the emergency room, feed patients, and much, much more.

In addition to their regular assignments, volunteers also help out during hospital events like lectures, seminars, and health screenings as well as community events. Last year, 296 volunteers donated 878 hours at more than 100 events, according to Artuz.

History of Giving

Since it was started in 1955, the Service League has provided more than 1.8 million hours of service and donated more than $2 million to the hospital. In addition to the hours members give, the Service League raises money to help fund many projects for Washington Hospital. At its recent business meeting, the Service League announced a $70,000 gift for the purchase of a new stress fracture table for the Washington Hospital operating room.

In addition, the Service League paid off its five-year pledge of $300,000 for the new critical care emergency room. Construction of the critical care pavilion will begin in 2013 and is expected to be completed by 2016. It will expand emergency and critical care services to accommodate the marked increase in seriously ill patients treated each year in Washington Hospital's emergency room.

The Service League also started a senior volunteer program last year. The Service League is partnering with On Lok senior services to offer volunteering opportunities to older adults served by that organization.

"Washington Hospital always needs more volunteers," Artuz said. "There are so many opportunities for volunteers at the hospital. Volunteering has been a great experience for me and I'm truly thankful for the chance to help others and get involved."

Anyone interested in volunteering at Washington Hospital must attend an information session, held each month. For more information about volunteer opportunities and dates and times for upcoming information sessions, visit or call (510) 791-3465.

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