Volunteers take action by giving time

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If you are interested in volunteering for YVMC, Hospital Auxiliary or the Healthcare Foundation, please call Mindy Fontaine at 870-1146, or e-mail mindy.fontaine@yvmc.org.

In these trying economic times, there is one way to give without affecting your bank account. Yampa Valley Medical Center's employees are more efficient, and patients receive enhanced care because of this mode of giving. The gift is time, given through the daily actions of our volunteers.

This week, April 19 to 25, is National Volunteer Week. It is a time to "Celebrate People in Action," and recognize those who improve our quality of life by giving their time to others.

YVMC benefits from its 210 volunteers who participate in 11 programs and a variety of events throughout the year. Like employees, our volunteers keep sight of our mission to provide excellent healthcare through safe, personalized and quality services. Working closely with healthcare professionals, our volunteers enrich the services and programs at YVMC.

When patients are brought to the emergency department after an accident on the slopes, one of the first people they encounter is a volunteer from the Help at Hand program.

"I say this every year, we can't do what we do without them," YVMC Emergency Department Director Paula Golden, R.N., said. "They make the patient experience more positive at a time that can be stressful."

While the patient is being triaged by an ED nurse and checked in by admissions, the Help at Hand volunteer focuses on additional needs: putting away the patient's belongings for safe keeping, providing a warm blanket and making sure they have a ride home. They also may become emotional support for a frightened patient and their family.

"Help at Hand volunteers tell me what they enjoy most about their job is knowing they made a trip to the emergency room a lot less traumatic," Volunteer Services Coordinator Mindy Fontaine said.

Volunteers make a difference in patient care throughout the YVMC campus. Much like in the ED, Day Surgery volunteers provide support for patients and their families. At the Community Health Resource Center, a free medical lending library, volunteers assist patients by providing the resources to better understand a diagnosis.

At the Doak Walker Care Center, "the Bingo Ladies" run the weekly Bingo game, just one example of the many activities in which volunteers interact with residents.

"Each and every program is designed to provide a meaningful experience for the volunteer while also providing a priceless benefit to the hospital," Fontaine said. "The programs are just as individualized as our volunteers."

Inpatients are visited by two different volunteer services during their stay in the hospital: the Cookie Cart, which provides warm cookies and beverages to patients and their families, and the STAR volunteers.

STAR stands for Safety Teaching using Auxiliary Resources. These volunteers sit down with patients for several minutes and explain how to become a more active participant in their health care. Both programs offer patients and their families additional support during a time they often feel more vulnerable.

In addition to various programs in the hospital, volunteers also put in countless hours for events such as blood drives, the Community Health Fair and the annual Rubber Ducky Race. Volunteers also are vital to the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley's Penguin Plunge and Ski Town USA Golf Classic & Benefit Auction.

"It's fun to raise money because you get to spend it on things we really need," Hospital Auxiliary President Lee Gamble said. "Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to the community and meet people you would not have met otherwise."

Gamble also said that YVMC's volunteers come from all walks of life, they are full- and part-time residents. The time they give also varies, from nearly 20 hours per week to a few hours per month.

"It doesn't take much, a few hours can be huge," Gamble said. "Every little bit counts."

Today, and throughout this week, YVMC wishes to thank our volunteers here and throughout our community. We cannot say thank you enough for ways you improve our lives.

Riley Polumbus is communications specialist at Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at riley.polumbus@yvmc.org

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