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April 17, 2007 > Volunteers Make the Difference

Volunteers Make the Difference

Washington Hospital couldn't run without its volunteers, according to Anna Elola, director of Volunteer Services for Washington Hospital. During National Volunteer Week, April 15 - 21, Washington Hospital will be celebrating and thanking the hundreds of people who donate their time and talents to benefit the hospital.
"Our volunteers do everything from feeding patients to providing scholarships and most importantly they share their 'gift of time'," says Elola. "Washington Hospital is fortunate to receive so much support from the men, women and students who give their free time to making the hospital a better place."
Washington Hospital is supported by more than 500 volunteers serving in all facets of the hospital and the larger community. Last year, the Service League volunteers combined to donate more than 49,000 hours of service to Washington Hospital.
In addition to the hours they give, volunteers raise money to help fund many projects for the Washington Township Health Care District. In 2006, the Service League Board voted to give $65,000 to the Washington Hospital Healthcare Foundation as the first installment of a total pledge of $300,000 to be paid over the next five years for the Critical Care and Emergency Room building fund.
"The Service League's goal was - and still is - to support the hospital by assisting patients, visitors, and staff and raising money to help purchase needed equipment for hospital departments," adds Elola.
Working closely with Washington Hospital Healthcare System, volunteers provide care and support to patients, families and visitors - seven days a week, 365 days a year. The Washington Hospital Service League has provided vital support to the hospital since its founding in 1955.
During National Volunteer Week, Washington Hospital hosts a special luncheon for all the volunteers that donate their time and effort. Volunteers are also honored by the hospital staff with cards, flowers or homemade cookies in gratitude for their gifts to Washington Hospital.
Volunteers Contribute in Several Ways
Volunteer opportunities at Washington Hospital are abundant for community members who want to get involved with their local community hospital. Volunteers act as receptionists for the hospital, help discharge patients, deliver flowers, staff the gift shop, give tours of the birthing center for expectant families and staff Washington's Community Health Resource Library (CHRL).
Volunteers come from all walks of life and contribute a huge variety of talents and experience. Hospice volunteers visit terminally ill patients and spiritual care volunteers are members of an interfaith group that includes 14 denominations that are on call 24 hours a day.
"When clergy are called in by family or the hospital, it means that the patient or families need something that no one else can give, whether it is prayer, counsel, or just a presence," says Father Jeff Finley, Spiritual Care Coordinator at Washington Hospital. "I think we are very blessed to have such a great group of volunteer clergy willing to give their time, day or night, to respond to the need."
The Washington Hospital Employees' Association (WHEA) was formed to help foster and promote social activities for the hospital and organize charitable drives that help benefit the local community. Employee's association members donate money toward scholarships, provide school supplies for children and hold several clothing drives each year to help the less fortunate.
"All of our charitable efforts and employee-related activities wouldn't be possible without the support of dedicated employee volunteers who organize these special events," says WHEA President Mike Rogers.
Mended Hearts visitors are volunteers who have had heart surgery in the past and now visit others who have recently had heart surgery.
"Mended Hearts, Chapter 110 volunteers regularly visit heart surgery patients and their families to offer their support and encouragement," says Phyllis Fiscella, R.N., Washington Hospital's Non-Invasive Cardiology Manager. "These visits are made in person, by telephone or by e-mail."
Volunteers staff the Emergency Room, the hospital's surgery waiting room, the Washington Radiation Oncology Center and the intensive care and critical care units. Volunteers feed patients who are unable to feed themselves and read books and talk with patients who are in need of a visit.
Volunteer Opportunities
In addition to the many other volunteer opportunities available at the hospital, the new Washington Women's Center is looking for emotionally mature female adults to assist patients and families prior to diagnostic, procedural, screening, or wellness service waiting periods. The Washington Hospital Birthing Center is also looking for volunteers to give tours of the unit.
"The volunteers try to cover what new parents can expect and some of the situations they may not expect," says Elola. "It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to give a tour and last year nearly 1,000 people toured the unit."
If you are interested in volunteering, please call the Volunteer Services Office at (510) 791-3465, or send an e-mail to
Become a volunteer
Prospective volunteers are welcome to attend a monthly volunteer information session at Washington Hospital where they will be informed about current volunteer opportunities and requirements for volunteering. Applications are provided at the information session. Volunteers who meet the health, age and background screening requirements must attend an all-day orientation to learn about the hospital's mandatory safety program. All volunteers are asked to volunteer a minimum of twice a month.
The next volunteer information meeting will take place on Friday, April 20, from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, Room C.
The Student Volunteer Program is for young people who are at least 15 1/2-years-old, have sophomore standing, and a "B" or higher grade point average. Student volunteers need a recommendation from their high school counselor and an unofficial copy of their transcript. College volunteers are also welcome. College volunteers need to have a letter of recommendation from a teacher, employer or counselor.
For more information about becoming a Washington Hospital volunteer, call (510) 791-3465 or visit the hospital Web site at, click on "Giving to WHHS," and select "Volunteer Opportunities" from the drop-down menu.

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