Hospital Volunteers – A Valuable Resource

Volunteers are a gold mine for engagement level involvement in your divisions. These are individuals who are not required to come to work but do so because they truly want to serve the community and the hospitals. Employees become disengaged at work because of over-utilization and over-working them, volunteers become disengaged because they are not utilized effectively. We can ensure we have a robust program that will support our division and others to bring in these highly motivated and caring individuals to help with patient outcomes for our healthcare systems.  

The biggest question with volunteers is how and when to utilize these resources. Obviously, volunteers cannot provide direct patient care. If you consider returning volunteers, some may be willing to receive training and qualifications to work in some of the manual departments. If a volunteer is healthy enough and has CPR training, they may be able to do well-patient discharges for your transport department. This would be the lower end of the volunteers, as most of them are not engaging in labor-intensive work. Utilizing volunteers for office work, unit clerks, and administrative tasks would be an easy endeavor. Adding to that, you would be able to offload this responsibility from the other individuals in the organization. Adding a volunteer to the patient-facing areas is also a terrific idea. As stated above, volunteers are engaged and caring individuals. Who wouldn’t want this to be the first individual your patients and family members see when they enter the building!    

From a technical standpoint, coordination of scheduling is difficult with volunteers. A large portion of the available volunteers are retirees or students. This leads to very limited responsibilities and schedules. Utilization of an online, web-based schedule program would be a lifesaver for most volunteer programs. I have utilized Volgistics in the past and it was well worth the very small investment. Once that is in place, you will need to structure training and on-boarding scheduled for volunteers. Although not as intense as full-time employees, all volunteers will need to receive training over patient care areas, HIPPA, and emergency management.  Support Services – Application of Lean practices across our division. 

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