Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hospital Volunteers are a Special Group of People

What a wonderful way to start a Thursday! I had the delightful pleasure of “working” in The Glass Gift Box (our magnificent Auxiliary gift shop) this past Thursday as part of my routine of WalkRounds throughout the medical center. My first job was unpacking what seems like hundreds of candles. If you can’t find a scent you like at The Glass Gift Box, then there’s something wrong with your sniffer. I picked out a lovely “merlot” scented candle and can’t wait to light it next time I am enjoying a glass of red wine.

They decided to run a special that day – spend $20.00 and get a $5.00 gift certificate - which seemed to stimulate a lot of activity. The shop was full all morning and it was fun helping the visitors and employees alike find something neat in the shop. Of course, I got the chance to interact with Kerri Olson (our Cracker Jack volunteer coordinator) and Cara Kenkel (our extraordinary gift shop coordinator). Both these ladies are delightful to be around (even though Kerri is a big Cyclone fan) and seem to really enjoy their work.

I also had the opportunity to interact with some of our amazing volunteers! There is nothing quite like a hospital volunteer. If you looked up “salt of the earth” in the proverbial dictionary, there you would find a picture of the GRMC Auxiliary. These folks give so willingly of their time, talents and resources. Since I started working at the Boone County Hospital when I was about 13 or 14, I’ve been around hospital volunteers. I simply can’t think of a finer group of people.

Thursday, Mary Jo Adams was working the register and helping to unpack merchandise. She works most Tuesdays and Thursdays…now that’s dedication! Pretty soon, Nancy Stoner came in. She’s new to town, said she was from Indiana. Imagine that, one of the first things she did was learn how she could help out at the local hospital. Then Bonnie Buntz came in, another one of faithful volunteers. Dot Zylstra stopped by with a delivery and Joe Allwood stopped to ask about his clinic route! I noticed John Martinek out front at the information desk and Jack Templeton was up in the surgery waiting area. Nadine Coots helped out in the cafeteria on Thursday and well, I could go on and on. The GRMC volunteers, along with the other thousands and thousands of people who care about their community hospitals enough to volunteer, I say a heartfelt and hearty THANK YOU! We simply couldn’t do it without you.

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


One of the more enjoyable things I do from time to time is a WalkRound. I wrote a guest column for Healthcare Executive, (Nov./Dec. 2009) a magazine from the American College of Healthcare Executives, about the benefits of a WalkRound. A WalkRound is a walk in the shoes of my co-workers, learning from and helping with their jobs for a designated period of time.

In a recent WalkRound, I was with Beth, one of our housekeepers. She was cleaning in our inpatient unit when I had the chance to join her. She took the time to show me the process for cleaning rooms while they are occupied. I was impressed with both the efficiency and thoroughness of her efforts. After a few words of explanation, it was my turn to help. I put on a fresh pair of gloves and off I went. I didn’t need to introduce myself to the first patient as I knew the fellow. He was a little confused at first, but quickly caught on when I shared with him the value of a WalkRound. I dusted his room, cleaned the bathroom, and then dry mopped the floor. We chatted as I cleaned and I was pleased to hear his praise for the staff during his current stay. Soon enough I completed my tasks (not quite as quickly as Beth but I did try to be just as thorough.) I asked if he needed anything else and was off to the next room.

I spent the next couple hours working with Beth as she moved from room to room and then spent some time in the nurse’s station cleaning the break room. We made a trip to the laundry area to check on some special needs from the OR and then made a garbage run through the Healing Garden and cafeteria.

I told Beth my first job in a hospital was in housekeeping. As a 13 or 14 year old, I would clean the delivery rooms and operating rooms of the Boone County Hospital after school. My dad was the administrator at BCH. It was the first of many jobs there through high school and I worked at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics as a college student. Watching my dad enjoy his occupation and those early jobs in various departments hooked me. I simply love the complexity and soul of the hospital. Beth is a prime example of these two things. We have something like 150 different job descriptions at GRMC. We have people of all types, educational backgrounds, skill sets, talents, and interests all working together to deliver the best care possible. The complexity is obvious, but so is the soul. Hospitals are remarkable places because of the commitment of each of the staff members, dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others. That’s the heart and soul of every hospital. I am proud of the women and men that make GRMC special and it was my privilege to spend the morning with Beth as she reminded me the importance of thorough cleaning and the pride she takes in a job well done.

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.