Celebrating National Volunteer Month
The Novant Health Auxiliary has deep roots. In 1962, a group of prominent women saw the need for a hospital in Manassas to better serve our community’s healthcare needs. With their vision and the financial backing of the Manassas business community, Prince William Hospital opened in 1964. These roots are deeply connected to the community and the spirit of volunteering is alive and well. Volunteering engages community members who donate their time, talents and resources for what has evolved into Novant Health UVA Health System. The Auxiliary and its members are from the community, provide for the community. Their presence has been constant, and they bring not only monetary value, but more importantly, their life experience, compassion and a sense of community to Novant Health UVA Health System. We can easily identify volunteers by their Aubergine jackets. But who are these volunteers, many of whom are an integral force in the hospital?
In 2018, we had 651 volunteers. These community members comprise an army of volunteers that serve patients and team members in 48 departments at Prince William Medical Center, Haymarket Medical Center, Caton Merchant House, The Cancer Center and our very own Aubergine Thrift Shop. Volunteers help meet various needs and represent a competitive advantage for the hospital.
Whether wayfinding patients and guests, rounding on patients with the Comfort Cart, giving books to newborn babies, restocking supplies, rocking babies, helping in the emergency department and surgical services, staffing our Thrift and Gift Shops and many other services, volunteers are here to help our patients, guests and team members. Our pet therapy dogs are also a friendly force on Waggin’ Wednesdays.
One particularly impactful story is when pet handler Stephanie Dagata noticed a woman on the phone, sobbing. She learned the woman was waiting for her family to arrive, as her husband was having a life-saving procedure. The pet therapy group gathered around the patient’s wife, having her take turns petting all the dogs giving her momentary relief. When it was Butch’s turn to be petted, unprompted, he walked up to her and placed his head in her lap. He wagged his tail and she smiled. She stopped crying and talked to Butch. When her family arrived, she began sobbing again. Butch pulled on his leash to get back to her. He then laid down on her feet and did not move. That was his way of telling her, “I’ve got you.” Butch laid there until the surgeon came out with an update on her husband. This story is heartwarming, but it is not unique. There are countless stories of the compassion and helpfulness our volunteers have to share. Just ask them sometime.
Volunteers give their time and skills and contribute to the well-being of our community. Community volunteers no longer observe the hospital as an outsider and the hospital becomes more than a location to seek healthcare. The hospital is a bedrock for the community, which serves many local functions and needs. There are benefits to volunteering, but volunteers give back with no expectation of personal reward. Their reward is the realization that they’ve made a difference in a patient’s experience; patients who are our neighbors and friends. Volunteers are educated and trained to be fresh eyes that help promote a culture of safety and patient satisfaction by partnering with team members to create a remarkable patient experience. One new volunteer initiative is the addition of volunteer Safety Coaches. Prince William Medical Center currently has three Safety Coaches and this month volunteer Sharon Smith won the Great Catch Award for identifying two doors in the Intermediate critical care unit (ICCU) that needed repairs. With elderly patients in both rooms, Sharon was justifiably concerned. She worked with ICCU team members in reporting the issue to Plant Engineering.
The motivation for thousands of volunteers over the past 55 years to donate 65,000 hours annually and millions of dollars in fundraising is a common desire to give back to the community by selflessly helping others. All monies raised benefit patient care/patient experience by purchasing items that non-budgeted items as well as awarding generous scholarships. In 2018 the Auxiliary generously funded the Prince William Medical Center WMC Healing Garden, Magazine Racks, two Player Pianos, Metron Bariatric Hi-Lo Mat Platform, Lock & Latch Activity Board, iPad to support Outpatient Infusion patients, CD Burner for patient records, iPad to operate Piano. This year the Auxiliary will award $25,000 to volunteers pursuing an education and careers in healthcare. This is an investment for our future and one that is done with a community and local focus.
Volunteers are also ambassadors in the community; they put a face and a name to the hospital. By deepening our roots in the community, volunteers help us achieve many organizational goals and enrich lives. Volunteering helps create a remarkable experience in every dimension, every time.
As we celebrate National Volunteer Month, I want to share my favorite quote by Kofi Annan: “Let us remember the large numbers of citizens who, day in and day out, through acts of volunteerism large and small, bring hope to so many of the world's disadvantaged. Let us ensure that this wonderful resource, available in abundance to every nation, is recognized and supported as it works towards a more prosperous and peaceful world.” The next time you see a volunteer, say hello and thank them. They are remarkable!