Volunteers perform valuable duties at hospital

As Pagosa Mountain Hospital (PMH) opened for business last January, four Pagosa Springs women were actively seeking volunteer opportunities. Today, they are the “Governing Group” of the Pagosa Mountain Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary.

Shortly after PMH opened its doors, Beverly Chester, Kim Collins, Nancy Grovhoug and Cathy Rose stopped in to assess the hospital auxiliary. Upon discovering there was no such entity, they immediately thought to establish one.

Following a little Internet research and the creation of a general set of bylaws, the group worked with hospital administrative coordinator Kelly Johnson to solicit interested participants and organize a volunteer breakfast.

Lo and behold, 27 people attended the event held earlier this month, with all adding their names to a growing list of auxiliary volunteers. Indeed, the most recent volunteer list Johnson provided The SUN includes 34 names, aside from another sizeable group who’ve donated professional services, art work, electronic equipment, even chapel furnishings and supplies.

While the volunteer list appears substantial, Johnson is quick to suggest more volunteers — especially men — are needed.

“We’re always in need of volunteers,” she wrote in a recent e-mail. “Traditionally, throughout the years, hospitals have survived on their volunteer base of people serving in auxiliaries … . We are always amazed at the amount of time, talent and treasure that people are willing to give.”

According to the auxiliary Governing Group, volunteers serve as a human element in a high-tech environment, often adding a personal dimension to patient and family hospital visits. PMH looks upon volunteers as ambassadors who serve as liaisons between the hospital and community.

Auxiliary volunteers fulfill many vital functions in hospitals across the country. For now, most PMH volunteers assist with billing and filing, but Beverly Chester suggests, as hospital volume increases, volunteers will greet visitors, direct them to the appropriate department or office, transport patients to the lab or x-ray, and visit with, or even read to, in-patients.

The Governing Group believes volunteers are essential in assisting with administrative duties, providing hospital tours and supporting emergency room staff. And as a whole, the auxiliary is now working to assemble a library of donated books and magazines for the enjoyment of patients and visitors.

While offering aid to visitors, patients and staff, volunteers also find personal gratification through sharing in meaningful and rewarding ways. Hours and duties are flexible and basic requirements are few.

To become an auxiliary volunteer, candidates must be 18 years of age or older, complete an application available at the hospital front desk, attend an orientation, complete a Tuberculosis test and health screen, and attend general volunteer training.

Once accepted, volunteers must commit to serving at least 25 hours of service per year. Dress should be clean and casual, with comfortable closed-toe shoes essential. Volunteers will receive on-the-job training for chosen positions or functions, and all will attend quarterly breakfasts or luncheons with hospital CEO Brad Cochennet and administrative staff.

For more information on becoming a Pagosa Mountain Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary volunteer, call administrative coordinator Kelly Johnson at 731-9545, or visit the hospital front desk on South Pagosa Boulevard, just south of U.S. 160.

chuck@pagosasun.com