WDHS Chief Executive Rohan Fitzgerald outside the Hospital Op Shop with volunteer Rose Howard who helped decorate the windows for National Volunteer Week.
This week is National Volunteer Week, and Western District Health Service (WDHS) is paying tribute to each of its 300+ volunteer and auxiliary group members.
WDHS Chief Executive, Rohan Fitzgerald says normally a common sight around the hospital campuses and Op Shop, COVID-19 has put the pause button on the volunteer program.
“We definitely knew we had something special with our vast range of volunteers here at WDHS, but their absence during COVID-19 has really highlighted just how valuable their contribution to the health service has been”, Mr Fitzgerald said.
Birches Lifestyle and Leisure Co-ordinator Margi Bilston says prior to COVID-19, volunteers in The Birches had become more like friends to many of the residents.
‘I am always on the lookout for volunteers who are prepared to sit and read to residents who are unable to speak. The sound of a voice can be very comforting to those who live in silence’, said Ms Bilston.
Clinical Nurse Consultant, Carmen Jacobs in the Cancer & Dialysis Centre credits her volunteers with creating a feeling of warm country hospitality for patients.
“Thank-you is not a big enough word to say how much we appreciate their contribution” she said.
Volunteers, or ‘vollies’ as they are affectionately known, work across all campuses and departments. They run the Hospital Op Shop, drive clients thousands of kilometres each year through the community transport program to medical appointments, assist with theatre admissions and help staff with aged care residents and Social Support Group outings.
Mr Fitzgerald also paid tribute to the many staff members who also volunteered with community organisations around the region.
“This year’s theme of “Changing Communities. Changing Lives” fits so well with our overall WDHS ethos of ‘creating healthier communities’. We couldn’t be more proud of the way in which staff members contribute to making this community a happier, healthier and more connected place through volunteering.”
“We know things are challenging right now, but we very much look forward to the day when we can welcome our WDHS volunteer family back.”
The Hamilton Op Shop windows have been decorated with hearts and a message of appreciation from WDHS. The shop is currently closed due to the restrictions but volunteers can see their names in the windows and know that they are appreciated and missed.