Volunteer Opportunities at PMCMay 28, 2019
Susan Malette, Volunteer Services Coordinator, Piedmont Medical Center
The majority of volunteers have been here for many years, and they feel very strongly about Piedmont Medical Center. It has been a key part of the community their whole life – and their family’s life - and it is really very wonderful.
Susan Malette has only been at Piedmont Medical Center since January 2014, but as coordinator of the hospital’s volunteer services, she is already totally immersed in connecting the community with the hospital and offering new programs that truly enhance the patient experience.
“There are quite a few opportunities here and what is really great about it is we really try to match the volunteers up with their interest level, so depending on why someone wants to volunteer, we really match them up with their skill set or interest level,” she says, “We really make a contribution here.”
Susan says anyone can volunteer, and does, with a wide range of opportunities available for high school students, college students, professionals and seniors. There are many patient-related activities that include nursing support as well as office and administrative support work. There is even the gift shop for people who are vibrant and personable.
Programs reach more patients
Susan says new programs like Piedmont’s pet therapy program are a great way to engage patients and help relieve some stress they may be feeling.
“Pet therapy really relieves stress for a lot of patients,” she says. “It breaks up the monotony of being in the hospital, and it is just a really easy way to come in, visit a patient, break the ice and have a conversation with them so they know that someone cares about them. It allows them to have a more enjoyable stay here in the hospital.”
Programs specifically for cancer patients are also rising in popularity, like the New Attitude Room where patients going through chemotherapy can go to create a whole new image.
“We have wigs, scarves, pins and some jewelry, and volunteers down there assist them with their new image, depending on what challenges they have based on their treatment,” she says. “There are a lot of special types of makeup that have to meet certain standards for cancer patients to use them, and a lot of folks are not familiar with those things, so it is an easy way for them to access those products and know where to go.”
Susan says the hospital currently has about 140 volunteers, and you don’t have to have medical experience to devote your time. You just have to care.
“First and foremost, it is being a companion,” she says. “For the most part, no one in the hospital wants to be here, so if we can make their stay a little more enjoyable, that is what the objective is. This is a very community-related hospital.”
She has even seen patients be so impressed with their care they have come back to volunteer themselves.
“One patient was in the ER and she said that during her stay there, this one particular volunteer was attentive to her and made her feel comfortable and positive about what her results were going to be. Now, the patient is a volunteer in the ER as well,” she says.
Another gentleman who had been through his fourth heart trauma had such positive support from the volunteers and staff, he wanted to come and give back. He just had orientation this month, working with the Mended Hearts program for recovering heart patients.
“They talk about their own experience, so it is very informative for folks who might be afraid,” she says. “To connect with someone who has already been through it is very reassuring for them.”