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Calling all volunteers: Lehigh hospital needs volunteers

October 23, 2013
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Liz Eilf, president of the Lehigh Regional Medical Center Auxiliary, has put out a call for more volunteers to help out at the hospital on Lee Boulevard, to join up and put in at least a four-hour shift of volunteer work each week, something that is extremely important at the hospital.

"Volunteers here are an important ingredient. While they have no contact with patients or their care, volunteers help out where they are needed and that includes several areas in the hospital," Eilf said.

She has been a volunteer with the hospital for five years and president of the auxiliary for the past two years. All total, she said there are 52 volunteers but she would like to have at least 65 people who are willing to give up some time and help out. That's an increase of at least 13 more people.

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Janet Collins has volunteered at Lehigh Regional Medical Center for two years and has volunteered in other areas for about eight years. She is also vice president of the auxiliary.

"What happens sometimes is that a volunteer can't make it in and we don't get a call until the last minute and it is difficult to get another volunteer who may have plans already made for something else," Eilf said.

"I would like that roster to have about 65 people on it," said Eilf who volunteers her time, not only overseeing the staff of volunteers and interviewing new applicants, but working in the hospital's gift shop, which is to the left of the entrance of the hospital. Proceeds from the store go to students interested in the medical field and this past year, the Auxiliary handed out five scholarships to students.

Eilf noted that one of the jobs of the volunteers is manning the front desk and it must be staffed daily while the hospital is open.

"These are the first people that visitors see when they come into the hospital to visit a patient or for some other reason. We need people who have a good knowledge of the activities of the hospital. All of that comes with training," Eilf said.

"People greet our visitors with a smile and offer any type of assistance they may need," she said.

Eilf said the need of obtaining new volunteers comes because often college student volunteers have to leave because of class schedules. Others come and go for various other reasons. Some retire because of their age as was the case recently when a 90-year-old woman who had put in at least 10,000 hours over the years decided to take some time off.

Volunteers are needed in several areas of the hospital, Eilf said.

"In addition to the Front Desk with volunteers putting in four-hour shifts, we have the downstairs surgical waiting room where the volunteer is the liaison with the surgical staff and keeps family members aware of how their loved ones are doing in surgery.

Eilf said volunteers are needed in the gift shop, medical records, radiology and pre-op records.

"Don't forget we need volunteers in the emergency room. These volunteers do such things as change sheets and beds in the ER and to take care of the stock room which provides time to medical personnel for emergencies," she said.

On the second and third floors of the hospital, Eilf said volunteers push a car from room to room from a provided list. They offer magazines and drinks and even take time to talk with the patients. Then we need clerical people in accounting and in human resources.

Those interested in volunteering must be 18 years of age.

"We need both men and women to be volunteers," Eilf said. Volunteers are put through background checks and are interviewed by herself or an assistant, Janet Collins, the vice president. Application forms can be picked up at the front desk, she said.

Eilf is planning to come up with a list of volunteers for each needed job and shift and give them out so volunteers know the individuals who also volunteer and can fill in for them when they can't come in.

When Eilf first started volunteering, there were only 32 people giving of their time as volunteers. Now she works at least one day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., mostly manning the gift shop and keeping account of volunteers.

She said volunteers are given two days of training so they are familiar with the hospital and its areas and how to guide people around.

Some volunteers give more than the four hours asked, she said.

Volunteers pay $5 in dues to join the Auxiliary and that helps to provide blue tops for volunteers. Pink vests are purchased by the volunteers themselves.

She said a typical volunteer is between 50 and 80. Then there are medical students who attend college and find time to volunteer.

"One of the benefits for those who work the 8 a.m. to noon and the noon to 4 p.m. shifts is a free lunch in the cafeteria," Eilf said.

Melanie Diaz of Lehigh is a volunteer who helps out in the Surgery Waiting Room on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. She has a list of those who are undergoing surgery and said she keeps family members informed about those in surgery. She is there to talk to family members if they want to talk.

"It's a good thing to do and I enjoy it," she said.

Janet Collins of Lehigh has been a volunteer at the front desk for two years and said she enjoys it. She has volunteered in other areas, too.

Some 16 volunteers must man the desk with all the four-hour shifts each week, she said.

"There's a certain good feeling to be a volunteer and know you are doing an important job for others," Eilf said. "It's a special feeling that you are giving back to the community." Eilf spent years running the Lehigh Community Services Center, where food and utility money were provided to the needy.

"We just want to get the word out to people who can donate four hours a week and we can work out the hours that can accommodate them," she said.

"Serving as a volunteer is a wonderful thing and our great people here at the hospital who are volunteers will tell you it gives them a good feeling knowing they are needed," Eilf said.



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