After retiring over a year ago, I resisted attempts to pressure me to volunteer. I needed time to process my new life and I am now glad I did so. Something compelled me to feel it would be rewarding and helpful to volunteer at the hospital. I began the process of applying and had to complete an extensive background check which I passed. I then had an interview.
When presented with options for service at the hospital, I determined I would enjoy being a wayfinder- the person who escorts people to that place where they don’t know where to go- the lab, x-ray, billing, medical records, even the emergency room. I interviewed, learned the rules ( the most important being privacy -HIPPA), and set my schedule every Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00-2:00. I had my TB test and gave proof of my flu shot. I showed up for my first day and was given my volunteer jacket and badge.
I was positioned in the lobby entrance to the hospital- the equivalent of Grand Center station. Here, people are asked to sign in at a computer and are then called to a desk to register for services. I quickly learned that my job was not just wayfinding, but also helping those intimidated by a computer put in their names to be called for registration. Most of those people are older individuals who do not have a computer at home or who have vision difficulties. As an academic who worked in IT, I am reminded that there are many people who are still intimidated by computers. I am so happy to do this for them.
My experience so far is that people from every walk of life come through the front doors of the hospital. It would have helped in a couple of cases if I spoke Spanish. One woman told me she thought she was having a heart attack and I quickly took her to the emergency room. A young mother brought in her precious six-day old baby for blood work. The people who seem to need me the most are the elderly who are often alone and when I ask, “May I help you?’ simply show me a piece of paper so that I can determine what they need.
By asking and helping people to sign in, I support an amazing group of three women who register patients and help them with payment. There are also two billing counselors who answer questions and help with charity applications. These people are all amazing, efficient professionals who have great human relations skills. Their system works.
I , who have been a leader and supervisor, am now in a position to report to others and to see service from the other end of the employee hierarchy. I am humbled. I see the amazing difference I can make and I look forward to each Tuesday and Thursday. People seem to appreciate the help.
My only regret is that due to privacy rules, I cannot follow-up on the status of the woman I took to the emergency room. I sincerely hope she is okay.