4 December 2012
Waikato DHB volunteers gift $500,000 worth of time
Volunteers gifted 38,720 hours of their time this year to help patients and the public visiting Waikato District Health Board’s hospitals and continuing care facilities.
That time represents 18.6 full time equivalent staff members and some $500,000 in monetary terms.
Waikato DHB took the opportunity to acknowledge this outstanding service from its 220 volunteers with a volunteers-day celebration this week ahead of International Volunteers Day tomorrow (Wednesday 5 December).
Volunteer coordinator Chris Atkinson said the celebration was about honouring the invaluable contribution volunteers made this year and the positive difference they make to patients and visitors.
At the celebration, Waikato DHB chief operating officer Jan Adams said the services and experiences volunteers brought to the organisation was amazing.
"You all make a phenomenal contribution. We know the art of volunteering is greatly appreciated by the public. Just walking into Waikato Hospital is very scary and often the first friendly faces the public sees, after grappling with the car park building, are the volunteer hospital hosts."
Mrs Adams said she was pleased to see that 90 per cent of the volunteers returned this year. Over the years volunteers had left to go to other paid employment or study. In the past year six had been employed by the DHB.
She paid tribute to Mrs Atkinson who was instrumental in attracting and retaining volunteers.
"She has been with us right from the start of this programme. Research shows volunteers lead healthier and happier lives and looking around this room, I can see that."
Mrs Adams also recognised volunteers for their key role in supporting hospital professionalism.
"The true value of volunteers lies in the benefits they bring to our hospital. Volunteering frees up front line staff to do clinical practice," she said.
Mrs Atkinson said a large number of volunteers were behind the scenes doing work appreciated by staff but unseen by the organisation as a whole.
"We view them as the ‘additional dimension’ that bring a sense of comfort and caring to our patients. Without you, this organisation would be a significantly worse place," she said.
Twenty-year-old student Caroline Bartholomew is one of Waikato DHB’s youngest volunteers. She enjoys her role as a hospital host for both the social and personal advantages it brings.
“You feel really good when you help someone. In the hospital, a friendly smile and a bit of help are really significant to people.”
“I also want to be a clinical psychologist. Volunteering as a hospital host has honed my people skills and hopefully set the scene for a job here at some point,” she said.
The celebration featured keen volunteer Patrick Nolan, a New Zealander who became the first and last Colonial to be appointed to the post of Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) at the Tower of London.
Throughout the day volunteers also heard from a variety of DHB staff about the key roles and services at Waikato DHB and the changing landscape of the Waiora Waikato hospital campus.
To find out more about volunteering at Waikato DHB, visit www.waikatodhb.health.nz/volunteering
About Waikato District Health Board and Health Waikato:
Waikato DHB is responsible for planning, funding and providing quality health and disability support services for the 372,865 people living in the Waikato DHB region. It has an annual turnover of $1.2 billion and employs more than 6000 people.
Health Waikato is the DHB’s main provider of hospital and health services with an annual budget of more than $701 million and 5238 staff. It has six groups across five hospital sites, three primary birthing units, two continuing care facilities and 20 community bases offering a comprehensive range of primary, secondary and tertiary health services.
A wide range of independent providers deliver other Waikato DHB-funded health services - including primary health, pharmacies and community laboratories.