Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/27/2021 --Although the care and compassion offered at Intermountain Healthcare facilities and other healthcare organizations across the country has remained at the highest level throughout the last year, one thing is noticeably missing: the volunteers.
At Intermountain, the bright green volunteer shirts with the warmth and empathy they provide left a hole in the hearts of those who were served -- along with the volunteers themselves -- when the system had to suspend the volunteer program in order to comply with COVID-19 safety precautions.
"From day one people noticed a different feeling in the hospital," said Mike Rawlings, director of volunteer services at Intermountain Healthcare.
Rawling said the impact of not having volunteers in the various Intermountain facilities was noticed in many ways — often in the areas that people tend to take for granted.
"Helping people to their car with a wheelchair, giving directions, just being the smiling face people see as they come in the door," Rawlings said, listing just a few of the tasks volunteers handle every day.
Beyond those seemingly simple contributions, the volunteers typically have their fingerprints on a wide range of departments, depending on the facility.
Prior to the COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020 Intermountain St. George was home to 247 volunteers, with 113 in Cedar City. Volunteer contributions include assisting at the information desk, helping in the gift shop, playing piano in the lobby, providing pet therapy, sewing quilts for the annual Jubilee of Trees, greeting people at the doors, and cuddling babies in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
Fortunately, some of those volunteer opportunities that have been vacant for so long will be opening again soon.
"It will be up to local leadership and infection prevention," Rawlings said. "Not every facility can accommodate the necessary social distancing to bring back the volunteers at this time."
For those who have come to rely on the opportunity to volunteer as an important part of their lives, the time to return can't come soon enough.
Kelly Casey, gift and kind coordinator for Intermountain Healthcare, said one of the volunteers she works with regularly is a woman whose seemingly healthy baby died at just 12 days old. She now volunteers with the hospital, donating items each month as part of her grieving process.
It is for volunteers like this and many other that Rawlings said they are "just really excited to start this program up again."
As the program slowly reopens to existing volunteers there is not currently a need for new volunteers but that need may change by summer. Volunteers as young as age 14 and older are welcome to seek opportunities with Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital at that time. To find out more, including how you can get involved, check out https://intermountainhealthcare.org/giving-volunteering/volunteer/
About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 25 hospitals, 225 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,600 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs.