When picturing the workforce in a hospital, doctors, nurses, admitting staff, facilities and food services employees, easily come to mind. But there is another segment of people who make a difference, giving of their time and talent to be of service to others … VOLUNTEERS. This Sunday, April 15, kicks off 2018 National Volunteer Week, and LCMC Health is grateful to recognize and thank all the volunteers who make a difference every day in its member hospitals.
“The LCMC Health hospitals are fortunate to have more than 3,800 devoted individuals who serve as volunteers to help us provide the best care possible to the patients we serve, and our hospitals are better because of their incredible efforts,” said Greg Feirn, LCMC Health CEO. “The impact our volunteers make on our medical and professional staff, and more importantly, the positive benefits they provide our patients and their families and caregivers are immeasurable.”
Hospital administrators are hosting a slate of activities throughout National Volunteer Week to salute their volunteers, whose wide-ranging roles include working with guest relations, patient services, staff/medical support, and staffing special events. In other cases, medically minded college students are offered opportunities for experiential learning that prepares them for further medical education and future careers as doctors, nurses, therapists and technicians. Hospitals also have Junior Volunteer opportunities, engaging teenagers in volunteer activities.
“These expressions of volunteerism empower individuals to find their purpose, taking their passion and turning it into meaningful change, making a difference,” said Feirn.
Profiles of outstanding volunteers for LCMC Health hospitals follow:
Alfred Joseph Jr., Touro
Alfred Joseph Jr. joined Touro’s volunteer community after being a patient, admitted to the hospital more than 25 times since 1966. His volunteer role as a peer mentor on Touro’s Rehabilitation Unit, began when he developed health issues following surgery for spinal stenosis. He later developed an infection that nearly paralyzed him. Using a walker today, he began visiting patients on Touro’s Rehab unit for those with spinal cord injuries, especially noting those who did not have family to support them in their recovery, unlike Alfred. With his mother’s help, Alfred would bring these patients treats, and eventually the staff encouraged him to become an official volunteer peer mentor. In essence, Alfred was already doing what the volunteer role was designed to do. As one of Touro’s former rehab counselors said, the volunteer peer mentor program “benefits both the volunteers who can see how far they’ve come and the patients who can see that they can get through this.” As for Alfred who seems tireless in this volunteer role, he says, “I can never give back what Touro has given me.”
Eric Rotts, Children’s Hospital
For years, Eric Rotts has gone above and beyond to embody Children’s Hospital’s mission to “Care for every child as our own.” Every Christmas, Rotts personally buys presents for each inpatient in the hospital and dressed as Santa Claus delivers them to patient rooms. He also volunteers for fundraisers that benefit the hospital, including Boo at the Zoo, the hospital’s annual volleyball tournament, Sugarplum Ball and Jazz Half Marathon, at which he not only makes monetary donations to the cause, but also serves as a part of the event staff. From troubleshooting issues at these events to cooking jambalaya and red beans for the event volunteers, Rotts makes himself available to help in any way he can. He is an indispensable asset to the hospital’s Events staff, doing his part to ensure that events will “go off without a hitch.” One of his most important contributions to Children’s Hospital is his role as a coach for the Miracle League, a sports league that provides the opportunity for disabled persons of all ages to be part of a team and organized sports. He gives of his time every year to coach kids and adults with disabilities Rott’s love for the patients at the hospital and his volunteerism in the background during fundraising events and The Miracle League is truly touching.
Claire Triffley, Children’s Hospital
Claire Triffley has been volunteering at Children’s Hospital for four years, specifically with Amy’s Art Cart, a mobile art cart to serve pediatric patients at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans. The cart is dedicated in the name of Amy Palmer, Claire’s cousin, who lost her fight with Multiple Sclerosis in 2012. Claire not only works with the program, she fundraises for the program as well, with funds used to stock the cart with art supplies, coloring books, craft sets, board games and even a mini library to bring joy and a creative outlet to hundreds of kids. It is the hope that “Amy’s Art Cart” inspires children to use their own creativity and imagination to help heal their wounds, help them forget their treatments, surgeries, and illness, and give them the strength to fight back. Claire also volunteers at special events, including the Sugarplum ball and Hog’s For the Cause.
Carmen Blanchard, West Jefferson Medical Center (WJMC) Hospital
Time and time again, volunteers at WJMC have literally saved lives. Over a more than 13-year period, Carmen Blanchard, Hospital Volunteer and Auxilian has helped save more than 4,000 lives. Carmen is the volunteer Co-Chair of the Blood Center Blood Drives held at WJMC in Marrero and hosted by the hospital’s Auxiliary, a position she has held for more than a decade, totaling more than 60 blood drives. As a cancer survivor, Carmen especially knows the importance of lifesaving blood availability. With her co-chair, Charlene Savoie, Carmen leads the planning and promotion of the drives, recruits volunteers, works registration on site, provides nourishment to donors, and more. Affectionately called the Blood lady, Carmen always has a smile and her game face on, especially when there is a shortage of blood in the community. She is persistent in her encouragement for blood donation, passionately asking others to consider giving this gift of life. And her efforts do not stop there. Carmen also volunteers at special events for cancer survivors and initiatives promoting cancer survivorship. She is described as an inspiration and source of hope to others experiencing their own cancer journey.
Catherine Robinson, University Medical Center New Orleans (UMC)
When Catherine Robinson retired, she decided to dedicate her time to things that nourished her mind, body and soul. For her mind, she enrolled in college classes on topics that interested her, like art and art history. For her body, she took up yoga. For her soul, Robinson decided to volunteer at University Medical Center New Orleans. Having spent her career as a certified registered nurse anesthetist, Robinson said she wanted to give back to the profession that gave so much to her. At UMC, Robinson has volunteered in several areas, including the Oncology Clinic, the Information Desk, Volunteer Services and Patient Experience.
Anisha August, New Orleans East Hospital
Anisha August is a lifelong resident of Louisiana, residing in New Orleans East most of her life. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Nicholls State University and a Master’s in Business Administration with a focus in Healthcare Management from Columbia Southern University. She began volunteering at New Orleans East Hospital in July 2017 to give back to a community that holds a special place in her heart. Anisha spent time shadowing and assisting directors in departments such as Radiology, Respiratory, Employee Health, Case Management, Central Scheduling, and the Emergency Department to name a few. She also shadowed staff members of the Executive team, such as the Chief Nursing Officer, to gain greater insight in Healthcare Management and Administration. In November 2017 because of her demonstration of excellent leadership skills, she was offered a full-time position as the Administrative Specialist of the Diabetes Center where she is now responsible for the overall operation of the department.
Mary Beth Romig Haskins, Public Relations Director
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