Notable Neighbors: Volunteers make a big difference at Medina Memorial Hospital

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 4 August 2019 at 4:17 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Mary Williams (left),  vice president of human resources at Orleans Community Health, chats with Ann Ortwein, one of dozens of volunteers who help at Medina Memorial Hospital.

MEDINA – Without volunteers, Mary Williams’ job might not run so smoothly.

Williams is vice president of human resources at Orleans Community Health, and a big part of her job is overseeing dozens of hospital volunteers and general volunteers who perform various duties throughout Medina Memorial Hospital.

Volunteers do many activities with residents in the North Wing, such as polish their nails, do Bingo or just interact with the residents.

One volunteer helps in the pharmacy and several others are patient advocates.

“As an advocate, they go around in a ‘folksy’ way and ask if there are any issues the patient wants to talk about,” Williams said. “Or they might just ask how the food is.”

Volunteers from the Association of Twigs have dwindled, but they still perform an invaluable service, registering out-patients and monitoring the waiting room. A Twig volunteer also sits at the reception desk to register visitors and direct them where they need to go.

Volunteers transport people from surgery or from the floor to physical therapy, or to the door if they’ve been discharged. In order for a volunteer to move a patient, however, that patient must be able to move themselves, or a nurse performs the action.

One student volunteer is going to nursing school and is volunteering for the summer.

Volunteer opportunities at the hospital are many and varied, Williams said. There are opportunities for older individuals who may be looking for something to fill their time or a way to get out and meet people. Younger volunteers, such as anyone considering a career in nursing, can shadow our employees to see if that is what they really want to do.

The hospital has a new van to transport North Wing residents on outings, and volunteers are sometimes needed for that.

Williams’ job also includes interviewing potential volunteers.

“After I talk to a new volunteer, I first talk with managers to make sure they are willing to supervise a volunteer,” Williams said.

Mary Williams stands by a painting she did, which hangs in her office. A big part of her job is overseeing dozens of volunteers who help at the hospital.

Then, if a volunteer is qualified, Williams explains about infection control and patient confidentiality.

“I don’t want to turn any volunteer away,” Williams said. “I try and find a suitable place for everyone who wants to volunteer.”

Williams said volunteers’ worth is immeasurable, not only in terms of services provided, but in dollars saved by the hospital.

“Anyone with a mission to serve can be a volunteer,” she said. “It’s so much better for everybody when we have volunteers.”

Anyone interested in volunteering can call Williams at 798-8148.

Williams said she has been at Medina Memorial Hospital “a long, long time.”

“I was a kid off the farm when I entered nursing school,” she said. “I wanted to be a volunteer then. I got to be a professional student. I became a certified nurses’ assistant, a licensed practical nurse and then a registered nurse.”

She became a supervisor, worked in intensive care and the emergency room, then decided she wanted to be in administration. She earned her master’s degree in health care administration and was manager of nursing for a while.

“I’m grateful to the hospital for giving me all those opportunities,” Williams said. “Some day, I’ll retire, and then I’ll become a volunteer.”

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