Volunteers Are Coming Back!
by Donna Jeanpierre
Volunteers like Mandy Solly are happy to be returning to volunteer at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, many for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am thankful to be able to finally return to my position in Paediatrics,” she says. “I am honoured to be part of this amazing program and the impact it has in the lives of patients and families.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of volunteers like Mandy stepped up in countless ways everyday to support and enhance patient and family centred care at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
They were active in about 40 different volunteer roles throughout the Hospital, including: Healthy Lifestyles Rehabilitation, Seasons Gift Shop (including the Jewellery Gallery), the Courtyard Gardens, and the Child Life programs in Paediatrics, to name just a few.
Our Hospital, like most in Ontario, made the difficult decision to limit most or all volunteer activity during the pandemic.
The absence of volunteers has had a huge impact on the patient and visitor experience as well as impacts on the functioning of various departments, services, and programs that have come to rely on volunteer involvement.
“They are a vital part of our program,” says Kyle Baysarowich, Manager, Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Cardiac Diagnostics. The Healthy Lifestyles Volunteers in the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation program are part of an interprofessional health care team. The volunteers help to motivate and assist out-patients recovering from cardiovascular disease with their exercise programs and assist staff with office work.
Healthy Lifestyles Volunteer Frank Rizzuto says he is relieved and excited that he will be able to return to volunteer again. “Volunteering with the amazing team at Healthy Lifestyles has been a blessing, and helping others move forward through similar circumstances I’ve gone through myself, has been mentally healing for me as well. I can’t wait to get in there and start bringing smiles back to peoples’ faces.”
Owned and operated by the Volunteer Association to the Hospital, Seasons Gift Shop had to close on December 26, 2020 as part of the province-wide shutdown, prohibiting in-person shopping in most retail settings. Hospital staff and patients were happy to see the gift shop reopen on July 5, 2021. All profits from Seasons Gift Shop are used to fund vital medical equipment for the Hospital.
“We recognize all of the volunteers who stepped back from volunteering this past year to protect themselves and our community, as our Hospital, like most in Ontario, limited most or all volunteer activity during the pandemic,” says Donna Jeanpierre, the Hospital’s Volunteer Services Manager.
“And we are thrilled to see them return. Both staff and patients have expressed their gratitude to see volunteers returning to serve at the Hospital. We all value what they do to make the patient experience better, and we are all so happy to see them come back.”
We want to thank all of the volunteers who help make a difference for patients and families.