Medical center volunteers lend critical aid

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Connie George
Volunteers from Desert Regional Medical Center’s Mended Hearts program, (from left) Pete Conley, Bill Stark, Bonnie Williams, Ed Sabie and Ed Trost, are just a few of the 200 volunteers who serve in 49 departments at the hospital.
Photo courtesy Desert Regional Medical Center

Among the Coachella Valley’s strongest assets for residents is its wealth of health services, and the area’s three major medical centers play leading roles in ensuring that quality care is always locally available.

Supporting the services provided at each facility is an extensive system of volunteer staff members who serve in key support positions, saving each medical center critical costs that can be further invested in providing medical care.

Desert Regional Medical Center, Eisenhower Medical Center and John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital collectively rely on well over a thousand volunteers each year — most of whom are older adults — to provide tens of thousands of hours of service to their facilities.

Because a medical center is a complex web of various programs and departments, almost like a small city, volunteers have the opportunity to work in many capacities that benefit not only patients, but also make use of their best skills.

Each of the valley’s medical centers accepts applications from prospective volunteers, conducts placement interviews, and then assigns volunteers to roles meant to be rewarding both personally and professionally. This custom-fitting is what fosters volunteers’ dedication to their tasks and encourages their continued involvement as part of the staffing team.

Desert Regional Medical Center

According to Rebecca Dierker, director of Volunteer Services at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, about 200 volunteers are serving there in 49 departments.

“We have a great group of volunteers who come from a variety of professional backgrounds,” she said. “It’s great to tap in to the variety of expertise that these volunteers bring with them.”

Some of DRMC’s volunteer team members serve in such areas as Hanson House, where families of patients can reside while their loved ones are in the hospital; the Comprehensive Cancer Center; the Outpatient Surgery Center; the emergency department and intensive care unit; and hospice.

Others help out in the gift shop and waiting rooms, run general errands such as delivering flowers to patients’ rooms, or serve as escorts for patients entering and leaving the hospital.

DRMC has a particular need for volunteer chaplains of any faith or belief system to provide spiritual support for terminal patients, Dierker said.

For more information on DRMC’s volunteer program, call (760) 323-6394 or visit www.bit.ly/DRMCVols.

Eisenhower Medical Center

Eisenhower Medical Center has a team of about 850 volunteers who have contributed nearly 120,000 hours of service in just the past year.

Based in Rancho Mirage, EMC has a particularly wide web of services that includes several specialized facilities as well as clinics in other locations of the valley, requiring volunteer assistance at each.

“Our volunteers bring a multitude of talents to their work at Eisenhower,” said Rhiannon Howell, director of Volunteer Services. “We look for ways to use these talents.”

In addition to fulfilling service needs in its various hospital departments, EMC’s volunteers assist at centers devoted to children’s health, addiction recovery, blood donations, and specific illnesses such as Parkinson’s, as well as the fundraising thrift store called Collectors Corner and other facilities.

Carol Enzor, chief administrative officer for EMC’s new Health Center at Sunrise, said, “Because we’re a new facility, many of our guests have never been here before and need guidance about where to go.

“Our volunteers help with registration, in the laboratory and in urgent care. Our patients comment about how wonderful they are, and our physicians really appreciate them as well.”

For more information on EMC’s volunteer program, call (760) 773-1304 or visit www.bit.ly/EMCVols.

Front desk support at JFK Memorial Hospital is provided in part by volunteers (from left) Sheri Peloni and Jeanette Allison.
Photo Courtesy JFK Memorial Hospital

JFK Memorial Hospital

At JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio, about 45 adult volunteers work throughout the year assisting patients, administrators and physicians.

Until recently, the medical center had no additional openings for volunteers, but is now seeking assistance in five key areas, according to Margo Garcia, president of the JFK Auxiliary, which coordinates volunteer placements.

Positions are available in the hospital’s gift shop, front lobby information desk, surgery waiting room, and radiology reception area. JFK’s Bone & Joint Institute in La Quinta is also in need of volunteer staff members.

Garcia requests volunteers who are available to work in four-hour shifts at least one or two days each week.

For more information on JFK’s volunteer program, call (760) 775-8479. JFK’s Volunteer Services web page at www.bit.ly/JFKVols has not yet been updated to reflect the new call for volunteers, but contains other helpful information about the team’s assistance to the medical center.