Volunteers serve in more than 25 medical departmentsMORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Heather Britton is legally blind, but she doesn’t let that stand in her way of getting around Ruby Memorial Hospital to serve as a volunteer in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. She consoles family members while they’re waiting for someone in surgery.
“I enjoy bringing a little sunshine into whatever they are dealing with and offering congenial compassion – being able to let them vent and getting them blankets, pillows or magazines. I have been in their shoes. I’m used to everything not being rosy. People squeeze my hand, and say ‘thank you,’” Britton said.
Volunteers at Ruby Memorial Hospital play a special role in helping the hospital meet the healthcare needs of West Virginians. Last year, 514 volunteers provided more than 24,000 hours of service to patients and visitors in 25 different medical departments at Ruby Memorial Hospital. Volunteers range in age from 14 years old to senior citizens. This summer, 65 junior high and high school students volunteered as part of Ruby’s junior volunteer summer program, setting a record high number of junior volunteers.
Volunteering at the Rosenbaum Family House makes Chip Winters feel like he’s an important part of a work team, though he’s no longer able to hold a full-time job due to health issues. “I feel like I’m useful, and the ladies who work at the Family House are like friends more than co-workers,” he said. “Being here is like the best part of a job that you miss. It’s a great place to be, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Whether it’s helping cuddle infant patients, sorting patient mail or greeting and escorting patients and families, each of the many heartfelt acts of volunteerism at Ruby Memorial Hospital has profound value to the organization and its commitment to serving West Virginians. After undergoing an application and interview process and immunizations, volunteers assist at various locations throughout Ruby Memorial Hospital and WVU Healthcare, including the Betty Puskar Breast Care Center, the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, WVU Cheat Lake Physicians, Emergency Department, Rosenbaum Family House, WVU Children’s Hospital and several others.
Jena Prokopchuk, director of Volunteer Services and the Rosenbaum Family House, said some of the most popular volunteer areas are Children’s Hospital, especially the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. College students who are interested in going to medical school here also volunteer in the Emergency Department.
“Although some departments have always been available for volunteering, new ones have been added over the years, and we are always looking for more departments to offer volunteer opportunities,” Prokopchuk said. “We are particularly happy to offer our patients more support through our newly expanded diversional activities program. This program provides a wide variety of activities for patients to help their days go faster.”
Families and patients often stop in at Ruby Memorial Hospital’s Friends’ Gift Shop for a little needed distraction from worry or stress. Volunteers assist customers in finding gifts or sometimes, they just listen.
“A lot of people start to talk and tell you their story. If we can provide an ear, sometimes that’s all they need, and it makes a big difference just being there to listen,” Sue Woodruff, a 30-year volunteer in the Friends’ Gift Shop and Rosenbaum Family House, said.
A graduate of a teaching hospital, Woodruff thought Ruby Memorial Hospital would be a perfect fit for her to continue her passion for volunteering when she and her family moved to West Virginia in 1983.
“I’ve seen this hospital grow so much, and compared to the first hospital, this one has grown by leaps and bounds,” she said. “There are so many more people being served. I’ve aligned myself with something that’s growing, and I feel a lot of pride being a part of this place.”
Photo caption: Evelyn Andrews, 89, prices candy in the Friends’ Gift Shop. She began working in 1961 at the former University Hospital and then at Ruby Memorial, when it opened in 1988. Over the years, she has dedicated more than more than 10,000 hours of her time volunteering at WVU Hospitals.
WVU Healthcare’s flagship hospital, Ruby Memorial, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It opened on July 19, 1988, after a generous donation from Morgantown philanthropist Hazel Ruby McQuain. The anniversary celebration will continue through the fall, marking a quarter century of care for tens of thousands of patients.
For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087