The value of a volunteer cannot be measured. We often overlook the value of the person sitting behind the desk of the family surgical waiting room, or the volunteer who visits and assists our loved ones in the nursing home or assisted living facility.

Volunteers are important assets to a medical facility, but their true impact is on the mental well-being they bring to patients and residents alike.

Value of Volunteers

Diana Meehan, Caring Corner Gift Shop director at Sidney Health Center, stated: “It is difficult to measure the impact a vital volunteer program has to a facility. You can report the financial gain by running the numbers of what the organization would pay an employee to fill the position and hours a volunteer provides. This monetary figure is significant and valuable to Sidney Health Center.

“The real, non-replaceable, value of a volunteer cannot be measured,” Meehan continued. “My definition of a volunteer is someone who gives unselfishly for another’s gain and benefit.

“Volunteers come to work because they care, they want to help, and they want to give of themselves,” Meehan added. “Volunteers give more personal time to the individual they are serving in the organization because they can do so without distractions or interruptions. Volunteers who work directly with customers, residents and patients become a friend to them and their family members.”

Marlys Anvik, senior executive of Long-Term Care at Sidney Health Care, stated: “We have seen the value of what visitations and personal contact means to the well-being of our residents during this time of COVID-19 restrictions. It is a crucial component to promoting a healthy environment for residents to thrive while living in the nursing home or an assisted living facility.”

Sidney Health Center currently has nine departments that utilize volunteers. The number of volunteers ranges from 120 to 150 throughout the year. This number includes those who volunteer on a regular basis. It does not include people who have donated time throughout the year to an event or fundraiser.

How has COVID-19 Affected the Number of Volunteers?

The Caring Corner Gift Shop has utilized 8 of its 30 active volunteers during the months of March through June 2020.

“Although many were willing to continue volunteering, I limited our volunteers to those low risk and able to work a longer shift,” Meehan reported.

Anvik responded: “Due to visitor restrictions in the long-term senior living settings, Sidney Health Center suspended the volunteer programs at Extended Care and The Lodge to minimize the risk of exposure to those most vulnerable to COVID-19, our elderly population.

“Following state guidelines, the nursing home and assisted living facilities implemented the visitor restrictions in mid-March as directed by Governor Steve Bullock,” Anvik continued. “In June, Sidney Health Center tested all the residents and staff at Extended Care and The Lodge for COVID-19 and confirmed that the disease was not present in either setting at this time, ensuring our precautionary measures are working.”

Volunteers Needed

Sidney Health Center Extended Care welcomes volunteers to visit and read to residents, assist with various group activities, or share their special talents. The residents always enjoy when volunteers share in their talents.

“Any interaction we can offer residents is a tremendous help to their mental and social well-being,” Anvik stated.

Those people interested in volunteering at Sidney Health Center can contact the Richland County Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) through the Richland County Health Department.

The Caring Corner requires that an application be completed, followed by an informal interview, which is held to make sure the store and the volunteer are a good fit.

Ensuring Safety

The Caring Corner Gift Shop and Good Cents Store at Sidney Health Center completed the checklist required for local businesses, as directed by the Richland County Health Department under Phase One of “Reopening the Big Sky.” The checklist complies with state guidelines.

Both locations have taken the following precautionary measures:

• Social distancing protocols

• Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures

• Daily health screenings of employees and volunteers

• Wearing fabric face masks to minimize the spread of infectious disease like COVID-19

NOTE: At this time, the volunteer programs are suspended at Sidney Health Center’s long-term facilities including Extended Care and The Lodge for the health and safety of the residents. The volunteer programs will resume when the visitor restrictions are lifted, Sidney Health Center representatives stated.

Individuals interested in volunteering at The Lodge should contact Director Jodie Leland at 406-488-4682.

Individuals interested in volunteering at Sidney Health Center Extended Care should contact Engagement Director Kris Radke at 406-488-2338.

Load comments