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Volunteers integral to Belleville General Hospital


January’s intake session was a success. Photo by Justin Medve, QNet News

By Justin Medve [1]

BELLEVILLE — Belleville General Hospital [2]‘s volunteers are dedicated to making your next visit a welcoming one.

Catherine Walker, BGH’s manager for community relations, said patients and visitors see the pink or blue smocks that they wear as a sort of beacon.

“You come into the hospital and you see the smock, and you see the smile and you see that greeting. At no point is that volunteer going to give you a needle or expect you to explain any kind of medical history. It’s just a comfortable relationship.”

Walker hosts an information session for new recruits on the last Wednesday of each month. She explained how vital volunteers are to BGH at the most recent gathering.

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Dan Willock

Dan Willock shows off a muffin at the Aroma Café. Photo by Justin Medve, QNet News

Other volunteer opportunities include running hospital shops, greeting new arrivals and comforting patients in all levels of care.

On Wednesday afternoons, you’ll find Dan Willock stationed at the Aroma Café.

He has seen the dedication of volunteers from both sides.

After being under the care of BGH from time to time, he decided to return the favour.

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Joan Hazard, who works a sundry cart, also sees volunteering as a way to give back.

“We all need the hospital at one time or another, so it was a good place to put in my extra hours,” she said.

Charlie Brown

Charlie, one of the hospital’s therapy dogs. Photo by Justin Medve, QNet News

Walker says that positions share a common theme.

“It’s all about providing support, encouragement and socialization to the people coming into the hospital,” she said.

Leah Johnson, president of the volunteer auxiliary, told QNet News there’s no special experience needed to help out.

“Just be friendly, we’ll teach you everything else,” she said.

The hospital welcomes anyone over 16 to apply. Organizers find hours that fit into applicant’s schedules and even work with high school and college students.

Walker said adaptability and flexibility have kept the program in business. Amid changes in hospital funding [5] and the eventual replacement of some cafeterias [6], there are no plans for volunteer positions to be cut.

Last year, volunteers spent 32,000 hours at BGH.

More information on how to get involved can be found here [7].