Patricia Wright, Director, Volunteer Services
Western Maryland Health System
President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order in 1974 as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers. Every sitting U.S. president since Nixon has issued a proclamation during National Volunteer Week (as have many U.S. mayors and governors). This year, National Volunteer Week is designated for April 12 through 18.
To highlight the importance of volunteers to WMHS, I would like to offer some impressive statistics. We currently have 441 volunteers, serving both the hospital proper and throughout the community; and in 2014, we recorded 22,885 hours of volunteer service. Some areas where volunteers are visible and vital to achieving our mission include our information giving areas, the Gift Shop, Parish Nursing, Hospice, Prayer Partners, Eucharistic Ministers and office volunteers. In 2014, our office volunteers created a total of 42,516 packets of material that were used for anesthesia charts, GI charts, heart surgery charts and others. Volunteers in the main lobby area of the hospital on average answer around 1,500 inquiries in any given month.
Our newest volunteer opportunity is a Pet Therapy program aimed at enhancing the environment for our patients and visitors. Pet therapy has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, provide a source of comfort and decrease loneliness.
All volunteers, including pets and their handlers, are processed through volunteer services. Volunteers are subject to the same onboarding processes as paid employees, to include an application, interview, orientation, background check and health appraisal prior to starting service at WMHS. Our volunteer application and process can be found on our website at www.wmhs.com/volunteers.html.
Volunteering is a rewarding way to support your neighbors and our hospital. With so many avenues of service available, we feel everyone has a talent to give. Won’t you consider sharing yours with us?