Monday Medical: Giving that lasts all year
December 18, 2016
Steamboat Springs — It's the season of giving, but giving to others doesn't have to end with the holidays.
Volunteering is a great way to give back. Yampa Valley Medical Center offers a range of opportunities for volunteers — such as passing out cookies, playing music in the lobby or even comforting patients in the emergency department.
"This is such a time of giving," said Pam Bosch, volunteer services coordinator at YVMC. "If volunteering is something you'd like to do, we have a number of programs that might fit your needs. Volunteers enjoy not only helping others, but also the camaraderie with other people and working with the staff."
YVMC has more than a dozen programs run exclusively with the help of volunteers. Currently, there are 137 volunteers who donate more than 5,000 hours a year at the hospital. These donated hours make a lasting impact on staff and most importantly, the patients.
Volunteers at Yampa Valley Medical Center are asked to commit to a weekly two- to four-hour shift for six months. They must be at least 16 years old, complete a health screen and background check, and receive a flu shot if volunteering over the winter season. This is at no charge to the volunteer.
"It is a commitment, but we try to make it flexible to fit individual schedules," Bosch said.
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YVMC's greatest need for volunteers is currently in programs in the emergency department, day surgery and hospital support.
The Help at Hand program supports the emergency department during ski season. Volunteers make sure patients are comfortable in the waiting area. That might mean helping them take off ski boots or gear, getting a warm blanket or finding something to eat.
"Volunteers are there to provide some comfort," Bosch said. "It's a way to show patients we care and that they're not just a number waiting to be taken care of."
For the Day Surgery Support program, volunteers can expect work that's a little more physical as they help with various needs, such as getting a patient something to eat or drink or making a bed once a patient leaves.
And for the Hospital Support program, volunteer greeters are needed at YVMC's new Outpatient Pavilion to welcome patients as they make their way to the Gloria Gossard Breast Health Center, YampaCare for Women and soon, the Jan Bishop Cancer Center.
"It's nice to have a friendly face greeting you," Bosch said.
Some of the hospital's other volunteer programs include helping GrandKids Child Care teachers in the infant room as part of the Kiddie Kuddlers program and delivering warm cookies and beverages to patients and their families.
Also popular is the Heeling Friends program, in which volunteers bring their trained, certified pets to visit with patients.
"You hear a lot of stories about how a Heeling Friends visit made a patient's day," Bosch said. "Depending on how long the patient is here, they may truly miss their pet. And it's amazing to watch these animals — they know what's needed."
Whatever area a volunteer chooses, he or she can be sure of one thing: the rewards go both ways.
"The volunteer takes a lot away from their experience because they leave here feeling good about helping someone else," Bosch said.
"I think there are a lot of people out there that would like to help — this is a volunteering town for sure,” Bosch continued. “Maybe they've thought about it, but haven't done anything yet. This year could be the year to start."
Susan Cunningham writes for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.