As the nation honors volunteers during National Healthcare Volunteer Week, never before has it seemed more important to honor and thank hospital volunteers for their commitment and compassion shown toward patients, staff and the community. Dedicated volunteers throughout the organization who give their precious time and talent to support and bring joy to patients and staff at both hospital campuses are still supporting the hospital remotely.
Supporting patients and staff
The Pinkies, part of the El Camino Hospital Auxiliary, continues to sew comfort pillows for patients and the Hooks and Needles volunteers continue to knit and crochet hats for newborns along with shawls, lap robes and caps for oncology patients. They also create "busy squares" made from quilted fabric with a variety of textures and objects to occupy patients with dementia.
Recently, the Auxiliary decided they wanted to do something to help brighten the day of hospital staff working tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic. They sent dozens of donuts to be distributed throughout each hospital for every shift. The thoughtful gesture was a welcome surprise and the staff was very grateful.
"We might not be together at the hospital, but we are still deeply committed to the organization and wanted to show our appreciation to the staff. We wanted them to know we had not forgotten them," said Judy Van Dyck, El Camino Hospital Auxiliary president. "I always thought I was doing something for someone else when I volunteered, but now I am realizing what volunteering does for me. Everyone is anxious to get back to their volunteer positions."
There are more than 500 members of the Auxiliary and another 200 junior members who provide valuable services to El Camino Health's hospitals.
Virtual health coaching for chronic diseases
The South Asian Heart Center also relies on volunteers to provide coaching and guidance to Heart Health Program participants. In the wake of COVID-19, adjustments had to be made so coaching services could continue using a telehealth approach. The coaches received remote access to the tools and tracking systems needed to securely and confidentially connect with participants.
"The coaches and participants have adapted really well and because of the shelter-in-place order, we’re finding our participants are paying more attention to their health and wellness during this time," says Ashish Mathur, South Asian Heart Center executive director. "In fact, we’re hearing that they are eating more home cooked meals, losing weight and in some cases, the whole family is becoming engaged in their wellness effort."
The center is seeing an increased level of participation with additional resources being provided, such as free evening virtual exercise classes with personal trainers.
"This 'going above and beyond' attitude of our coaches has facilitated us to engage with not only our current participants but re-engage with many previous participants who are appreciating our support and commitment to care at this time," adds Ashish.
Volunteers have played an integral role in the South Asian Heart Center from the very beginning and are truly the "heart" of the center.
Collecting donations from the community
Early on in the pandemic, several El Camino Health Foundation board members expressed interest in doing something to help support the hospitals and healthcare teams during this time. From that, the El Camino Health COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund was established. Board members have been virtually meeting several times a week and are evaluating how to best use donated funds across the organization to support the staff, such as funding the YMCA kid’s camp to provide free daycare services for employees or purchasing more personal protective equipment (PPE).
According to Andrew Cope, El Camino Health Foundation president, board members have reached out to their communities and business contacts to rally support for whatever the organization might need and encourage people to make donate items of great need. They also connected with local restaurants to help feed the hospital staff.
A core group of spiritual care volunteers pray daily for the hospital staff and patients.
Even during this time of social distancing, dedicated El Camino Health volunteers are holding the employees, patients and community members close in their hearts. We thank them for their commitment, kindness and generosity and look forward to welcoming them back into the hospital when we can.