“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Volunteers at Pratt Regional Medical Center seem to agree with Gandhi’s philosophy.
Susan Lynch, volunteer/guest services coordinator for PRMC reported on a “tremendous year” at a luncheon Friday honoring hospital volunteers. They increased their service by almost 2,000 hours over the previous year, and increased membership by 10. Sales at the gift shop during the first quarter of 2016 were up by $2,500, and a one-day luxury sheet sale netted more than $1,700.
Those are numbers you can put on paper, Lynch said, but the real value of the volunteer program is to the patients and their families.
When a person comes to the hospital to be admitted or for a scheduled procedure, a volunteer is the first person they see. They may be nervous, anxious or scared, but the volunteers offer a calming presence.
“You make their lives better,” Lynch said to about three dozen volunteers who were at the luncheon.
Bill Keller, chairman of the Board of Directors, noted that he had been present Friday morning at a convocation for Kelly Estes as Executive in Residence at Pratt Community College. Estes boiled down business success to one word: trust. Trust is important to a John Deere dealership and at least as important in the healthcare industry, Keller said.
“PRMC is a very good healthcare facility. People trust they are going to be taken care of,” he said. “We couldn’t do all we do without you. What you do helps build that trust.”
In a mostly senior citizen crowd, teenager Cambria Fisher was honored for 100 hours of service. The daughter of physical therapy manager Darwin Fisher, she says she’s a “social bug” who enjoys the contact with people. She fits volunteering in with her schedule as a home school student.
She helps direct, or take people where they need to go, and occasionally works in the endoscopy department, doing odd jobs like snapping up the shoulders of patient gowns that come back from the laundry unsnapped, or assembling materials for charts.
JuliaMae Hembree says helping people keeps her going. She worked at the hospital as a nurse aide during the 1960s and ’70s, then went back to school to earn a degree in social work. When she retired from that field in 1999, she started volunteering at the hospital, working several years with the SHICK (Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas) program. With 4,000 hours to her credit, she’s at the front desk, greeting patients and families.