Hospital volunteers recognized for thousands of hours of service
Published 9:48 am Friday, April 15, 2016
Sycamore Shoals Hospital depends on more than staff expertise and cutting edge technology to provide the best possible patient experience. Community volunteers assist the hospital staff daily, helping to make operations more efficient and providing listening ears to families during stressful times.
Forty volunteers work in the hospital at the information desk, gift shop, nursing station, dietary department and in other locations of the hospital. Human Resources Manager Sharon Sheppard said they greet visitors, answer calls, file some paperwork, label certain supplies and even provide pet and music therapy.
“Volunteers are very important for helping folks find their way around and listening, and that happens a lot in the gift shop,” said Sheppard. “People are stressed, and our volunteers give comfort.”
The volunteer program has been in existence for more than 50 years, Sheppard said, and each Spring, the hospital hosts a volunteer appreciation luncheon and dinner.
At this year’s luncheon, Ruth Williams was presented with a service pin for serving 8,700 hours.
“Last year, all volunteer hours combined totalled 7,300 hours, which is the equivalent to 3.5 full-time employees,” said Sheppard.
Volunteers typically contribute three to four hours weekly, and Sheppard said they can serve for a short or long period of time.
“If there is something specific they want to do, like playing music in the gero-psych nursing unit, we can arrange it,” said Sheppard.
One volunteer, Nadine Forbes, has been volunteering at the hospital for less than six months and said she loves it.
“I enjoy the atmosphere and I love to talk to people,” said Forbes. “After I retired and quit babysitting, I wanted to get out and see people and I said, ‘I’m going to volunteer,’ and I love it.”
She volunteers four hours weekly after retiring from a career at Sycamore Shoals Hospital and previously at Carter County Memorial Hospital. Her job is to answer phones in the nursing unit, and she said she really enjoys interacting with patients and families. Nurses in the unit agree that is a valuable and much appreciated contribution.
“Volunteers are beneficial to staff in that they help with answering phones and responding to patients’ call lights — that’s a huge help, “said Registered Nurse Wayne Winchester. “It’s beneficial for patients in that they get a faster response to their call lights while we might not be able to respond as quickly.”
Those with an interest in healthcare and public service can learn more about volunteer opportunities for adults and students online at www.mountainstateshealth.com and are encouraged to contact Sheppard with questions.