Chatham Hospital seeking volunteers to provide community touch

Posted 7/5/19

SILER CITY — Hospitals are known for being filled with doctors, patients, medical equipment and medicine, but right now Chatham Hospital is lacking in another area: volunteers.

That’s why …

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Chatham Hospital seeking volunteers to provide community touch

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Posted

SILER CITY — Hospitals are known for being filled with doctors, patients, medical equipment and medicine, but right now Chatham Hospital is lacking in another area: volunteers.

That’s why they’re seeking helpers to come and provide, as Whitney Blalock puts it, “that extra special touch” as the hospital serves its patients.

Blalock is the social worker at Chatham Hospital and coordinates the volunteer program with Eileen Ferrell, the volunteer coordinator for UNC Health Care. Both said volunteers provide something staff and doctors can’t.

“I’m sure a lot of the clinical and medical staff would love to be able to spend the time and sit and talk and provide the company that patients have been craving,” Ferrell said. “Staff look to the volunteers as a resource for them meet the social needs of the patients.”

Volunteers at Chatham Hospital are responsible for a number of things. Ferrell said they often serve as “first responders” in the hospital when patients call for assistance. They can provide patients with water or ice, help with using the remote control for the television and ordering a meal. If it’s something more serious, nurses would be called.

Blalock said Chatham Hospital is not a “large hospital,” but volunteers would still play a vital role in the facility’s operations.

“We have patients on the floor who are here for acute reasons and also rehab and can be here for long amounts of time and can be from far away,” she said. “Having a volunteer here to help out, bring a smiling face, be welcoming, is always a nice touch.”

The social aspect is most important for the hospital. Blalock is developing a revamped activity program for long-term patients in Siler City. Days will include times for puzzles, snack, games and relaxation.

“Especially for our folks that are here for therapy for weeks at a time, you can get a little stir crazy,” she said. “Things like that — you’re meeting other patients, you’re having interactions, you’re doing something fun each day — you have something to look forward to. We’re really trying to implement that, and the volunteer would be a big piece to that.”

The hospital is looking for three volunteers, Ferrell said, to cover an average week. Potential volunteers are asked to commit to a weekly 2-3 hour shift for six months in order to get acclimated to the hospital and provide consistent help. This particular need is during business hours, but working with the emergency department is more flexible time-wise. For more information on requirement and to apply, visit chathamhospital.org/ch/about-us/volunteer/.

Both Ferrell and Blalock said no medical experience is necessary, but someone who is willing to help and be a positive part of the Siler City and Chatham Hospital community.

“It could be something as simple as passing out water and flowers and cards to the more extensive activity-type role,” Blalock said. “But the big piece is the community involvement and the welcoming person that can jump right in and help out.”

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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