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HoCC Volunteer Services Help Residents Enjoy Their Visit

When it comes to volunteering the Hospital of Central Connecticut (HoCC) is a good place to start.

“Volunteer services has always been an integral part of the overall operation of the hospital as it is in probably all hospitals across the country,” said Gail Millerick, Central Region Director Patient Experience & Volunteer Services. “In New Britain we have 226 volunteers and at Bradley in Southington, we have 104.”

Volunteers do a range of activities from clerical work, to meeting and greeting people to working in the emergency room to helping release patients in wheelchairs.

“We have a lot of clerical opportunities, but it depends on volunteers’ skill set and what the departments need,” said Millerick. “They do not have access to patient information, but do a lot of collating for patient education materials and discharge information. It is important and it really helps.”

In fact the front desk has the highest utilization of volunteers. There are about 25-30 that provide the coverage and enhance the paid staff there.

“They meet and great people as they walk in the door. The first impression is important,” said Millerick. “That is the hub and it is always hopping.”

Volunteers are asked to work at least a 3 to 4 hour shifts once a week and usually work anywhere between 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

“Volunteers make a commitment and they take a lot of training in things like using a wheelchair safely, sanitizing a wheelchair,” said Diamond A. Belejack, Central Region Manager, Volunteer Services & Information Desks. “When they come on board they go through the same orientation an employee has and there are background checks for those over the age of 18. They are carefully screened and interviewed.”

Volunteers are taught things they must know from when a fire alarm goes off to hygiene and infection prevention.

Volunteer Fran Russell said she started putting in hours in 1963.

“I was a teacher in the New Britain school system and there were no records or computers back then,” said Russell. “I was only able to put a shift in during the summer. I filled in for people who went to the beach. New Britain did a lot for me and my family in teaching so thought I should give back to New Britain and started working here and eventually put in 100 hours of work each year.”

Russell said she started in admitting and has been involved in several departments. Now she works at the front desk.

“I love it,” Russell added.

David Youkhateh, who is the recipient of the Hospital Auxiliary Kathleen E. Boudrea Scholarship, started five years ago and is now 18. The new minimum age to volunteer is now 15.

“I work three hours a week discharging patients. I help them into the wheelchair and push them to front door. They wait for their ride and I help them to the car,” he said. “I also transport blood and other specimens and paper work.”

When Youkhateh began he wanted to be a teacher. After a few months to a year he decided to become a nurse because he enjoys helping people.

Another popular area for people to work is the gift shop. There is a manager, but everyone else is volunteer.

“It generates a considerable amount of revenue,” said Millerick. “There are also positions in the dietary kitchen and for junior volunteers. Many times junior volunteers help in the summer and stay with us during the school year volunteering after school.

There is even one volunteer who has consistently volunteered for 50 years and now knits blankets for the children who were delivered at the hospital.

If you are interesting in becoming a volunteer at the HoCC, call 860-224-5231 and speak with Regina Woltmann, volunteer coordinator.