Monday Medical: Volunteering at YVMC is a win-win

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— When Lynn Davis moved to Steamboat Springs 15 years ago, she followed in the footsteps of her family and began volunteering at Yampa Valley Medical Center. Since then, Davis has committed time and energy to programs and events, including blood drives, Rubber Ducky races, day surgery and the emergency department.

Monday Medical

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“It just makes me feel good to reach out to others,” Davis said. “This is a great way to do it.”

Davis’ sister, Terry Sherrill, also assists the emergency department through the Help at Hand program and has helped coordinate blood drives.

Their parents — Stan Whittemore and the late Essie Whittemore — together dedicated nearly 30 years to helping raise funds for the new YVMC campus, assisting with Help at Hand and jumpstarting new volunteer programs.

The family’s spirit embodies the devotion and enthusiasm of YVMC volunteers, who provide important assistance to hospital staff and visitors while receiving gratitude and personal fulfillment in return.

“What we do here is not taken lightly,” Davis said. “It is definitely appreciated.”

Yampa Valley Medical Center currently has more than 200 volunteers in 18 programs ranging from cuddling infants at GrandKids child care center to assisting the Healthcare Foundation with important fundraising events.

Volunteers contributed more than 12,000 hours of service to the hospital in 2012, said Mindy Fontaine, volunteer coordinator.

“Every volunteer at YVMC helps fulfill our mission, which is to enhance the atmosphere of the hospital, providing compassion and support for the patients, their families, employees and physicians,” she said.

The wide variety of volunteer opportunities at YVMC offers something for everyone interested in giving back to the hospital. Are you an animal lover with a calm pet? You may be a great candidate for Heeling Friends, which provides therapeutic animal visits to patients.

The Community Health Resource Center, which is run entirely by volunteers, is a good opportunity for individuals with medical backgrounds to help visitors learn in-depth about medical topics and conditions.

Volunteers in the Help at Hand provide kindness and assistance to patients and families who find themselves in unexpected and uncertain circumstances in the ER.

During the winter, the emergency department’s busiest time, more than 30 Help at Hand volunteer take shifts throughout the day, helping anxious patients and families with information about wait times, cafeteria and coffee/tea locations, activities for kids, transport to lodging and logistical details such as where to store their ski boots while waiting.

Most people usually are surprised there are volunteers there to help, said Jayne McCawley, who co-chairs Help at Hand with Liz Wright.

“To have a calming presence to help you through the situation is so much better,” said McCawley, who has volunteered with the program for 11 years.

Frank May, CEO of YVMC, said the Help at Hand program helps set the emergency department apart from others. This is evidenced by the department’s recent award for performing among top hospitals in the nation in patient satisfaction.

“Volunteers’ personal touch and passion for helping people adds something special to our organization,” he said.

Most volunteer programs at YVMC require some training. Help at Hand, for example, involves about 10 hours of training in addition to annual meetings. Volunteering can entail significant responsibility, adhering to patient privacy laws and hospital regulations.

For more information about volunteer opportunities at YVMC, call 970-870-1146 or visit www.yvmc.org. Click on “Careers” and “Volunteer Opportunities.”

Tamera Manzanares writes for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at tameramanza@gmail.com.

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