Chatham Hospital begins volunteer program
By Angela Delp, as appeared in the September 20, 2007 edition of The Chatham News
Chatham Hospital has long had a hospital auxiliary to help perform duties but is now looking to add more volunteers to its ranks.
Chief executive officer Carol Straight said the hospital is trying to recruit new volunteers to keep up with growing patient volumes.
Young people interested in healthcare careers can also benefit from the program.
Chatham Hospital has started a junior volunteer program, available to students 14 and older.
The students must complete an application, provide two references, submit a letter of recommendation from a teacher and write a 100-word essay detailing why they want to become a volunteer.
“We want to get junior volunteers who are serious about the work and who will enjoy being here,” Straight said.
She added that the volunteers would be treated like real hospital employees.
“They’ll be submitted to criminal background checks, an employee health screening and an interview,” she said.
Junior volunteers will be required to wear a Chatham Hospital junior volunteer polo shirt, khaki pants and an identification badge.
Straight said she feels the junior volunteer program is a great opportunity for community service.
“We need bilingual students and are more than willing to work with potential volunteers based on schedule and needs,” she said.
Adult volunteers will be expected to complete an application, provide two references, interview, criminal background check and an employee health screening.
The adult volunteers will wear a designated jacket and an identification badge.
Chatham Hospital director of human resources Kathy Thomas said both adult and junior volunteers “will be treated like members of the hospital family.”
“Both volunteer groups will be required to complete a new employee orientation which covers fire safety, privacy, blood borne pathogens and compliance,” she said. “They will also be given a 90-day evaluation by their department manager and an annual evaluation on their anniversary date.”
Straight added that volunteers are invited to any events scheduled for hospital staff.
“We also organize a Volunteer Appreciation Day luncheon and awards ceremony each April at Best Foods Cafeteria,” Straight said.
Thomas said most people assume all volunteers will be working with patients.
“We have need for many different types of volunteers that do not pertain to patient care, such as medical records,” she said.
Straight added that the hospital has recently experienced a patient volume increase.
“The more patients we have, the more paperwork, meals, and other things we need,” she said. “Volunteers help keep our labor costs down and help us to accomplish more.”
She added that volunteers can often do things regular personnel are not able to do.
“In the emergency room, volunteers can make sure patients and those in waiting rooms are comfortable and attended to,” she said. “They can go visit with some of our in-patients and spend time with them.”
Volunteer duties available at this time include nutritional services, laboratory, medical records, materials management and filing, pharmacy, human resources, emergency room, interpreting and chaplaincy.
Currently, Chatham Hospital employs 15 adult volunteers and six junior volunteers.
Straight said the hospital will need more volunteers as the replacement facility prepares to open next summer.
“We will have lots of opportunities for volunteers,” she said. “We will need lots of support from the community.”