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April 8, 2014 > Volunteers Play a Key Role at Washington Hospital

Volunteers Play a Key Role at Washington Hospital

National Healthcare Volunteer Week Recognizes Service

You may not realize it, but volunteers play a key role in supporting the staff at Washington Hospital. They can be found in nearly every corner of the hospital helping to ensure that patients' needs are met, comforting loved ones, greeting visitors, cuddling babies, and much more.

Washington Hospital volunteers are being recognized for their commitment and dedication this week during National Healthcare Volunteer Week. About 200 hospital volunteers are expected to attend a celebration luncheon on Tuesday, April 15 at the Marriott in Fremont.

ÒWashington Hospital Volunteers recognize the healthcare environment is constantly changing,Ó said Denise Stones, assistant director of Volunteer Services at Washington Hospital. ÒThey adjust to provide our patients and visitors with the comfort and support they deserve. YouÕll see volunteers all through the hospital and at your community events. We thank them for contributing their time and energy to their community hospital.
Washington Hospital has more than 600 volunteers, including adults as well as high school and college students, who give their time to help the hospital provide the best care possible. Washington Hospital Service League members donated more than 45,000 hours of service alone last year.

In addition to Service League volunteers, who perform a wide range of tasks, there are a number of other volunteer positions, including the following:
* Chaplains, who represent several denominations and are on call 24 hours a day, spend their volunteer time offering spiritual comfort to patients, families, friends, and staff.
* Washington Hospital Employee Association Board members are hospital employees who organize special events for fellow employees and their families. They also offer scholarships to the children of employees, and have donated money to hospital departments for items ranging from wheelchairs to teddy bears.
* Foundation volunteers raise funds to support the healthcare system. Gifts to the foundation have totaled more than $6 million toward healthcare services and equipment.
* Mended Hearts volunteers are specially trained to talk with heart disease patients who are undergoing heart surgery or receiving angioplasty, as well as their families, friends, and caregivers.

Something for Everybody

ÒIf you are looking to do something that feels good, you should consider volunteering at Washington Hospital and joining a dedicated group of individuals who give time and effort to help others,Ó says Gail Tomita, Washington Hospital Service League President. ÒA friendly face makes a difference and can help make someoneÕs day.Ó
When Tomita retired from her job, she was looking to do something close to home.
ÒI was fortunate to find a place at Washington Hospital and I have been a volunteer for more than 10 years,Ó she says. ÒI have made so many friends and worked in so many areas. I love sewing puppets for the ER and making bonnets for newborn babies. There are so many ways to volunteer your time here.Ó
Volunteers receive specialized training depending on what they are going to do and they are also required to shadow someone before they work on their own. Volunteers play an important role in patient care, so it's critical that they receive proper training.

There are more than 30 different areas of the hospital where volunteers provide support. For example, volunteers staff the lobby desk at the main hospital and at Washington West, where they greet patients and visitors when they arrive. They also help to discharge patients when they leave, wheeling them out to the curb where they can be picked up by friends or family.

Volunteers provide emotional support to patients and their loved ones in the emergency room and those in the critical care unit. They serve as surgery liaisons, keeping patients' family and friends updated during a surgical procedure. They make deliveries throughout the hospital and help to feed patients. They cuddle special care babies and take photos of newborns. They coach joint replacement patients following surgery. Volunteers also staff the gift shop and library. And the list goes on.

In addition to their regular assignments, volunteers also support a number of special projects like lectures, seminars, classes, and health screenings as well as community events like Think Pink.

Every year the Service League also raises money to help fund equipment and other special projects. This year, the Service League donated $55,000 to support the purchase of new equipment needed for the Washington Special Care Nursery.
"We do what we can to support the hospital," Tomita said. "We are very much appreciated by the hospital for our contributions, so it feels good. We need more adults who are willing to share their time and talent. I know there are a lot of baby boomers out there who are looking for ways to get involved. I hope they consider volunteering at Washington Hospital. It's been a great experience for me."

Learn More About Volunteering at Washington Hospital

Anyone interested in volunteering at Washington Hospital must be at least 16 years old and attend an information session, held each month. For more information about volunteer opportunities and dates and times for upcoming information sessions, visit www.whhs.com/volunteer/be-a-volunteer or call (510) 791-3465.

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