This story appeared in the Newton Kansan on February 28, 2013.
For 25 years, Newton Medical Center has served Harvey County and the surrounding area. While patients interact mainly with doctors and nurses among other paid staff members, it is likely that before they leave, they will encounter someone else very valuable to the hospital: a volunteer.
Overall, there are 132 volunteers at Newton Medical Center, stationed around the building, mainly in four areas: the surgery waiting room, the Surgery Center waiting room, the front desk, and the gift shop.
Kathy Parrish, a paid staff member of Newton Medical Center, works with these volunteers each day.
“We couldn’t do without them,” Parrish said. “They do things we don’t have time to do, really important things. When they aren’t here, we really miss them.”
Among the volunteers is Deane Frey. She has been a volunteer since 2002, when she began knitting baby caps for newborns at Newton Medical Center. That first year, she knitted only 13 caps – a time-consuming act that was greatly appreciated. As time has passed, however, the demand for baby caps has risen significantly, as have the number of volunteers.
In 2012 over 400 baby caps were knitted for newborns at the hospital – over 100 of which were knitted by Frey.
In addition to knitting caps, Frey also works as a volunteer sales clerk in the hospital gift shop – an entirely volunteer-run facility itself. When asked about her experience as a volunteer, she said, “It’s always kind of interesting. Sometimes people share their feelings about people they are there visiting. You always want to make them feel welcome.”
Linda Tompkins, longtime volunteer herself, agreed. “You’re not just there to sell. You’re there to visit with the people.”
Volunteers working elsewhere in the hospital have had similar experiences. Many of them encounter very stressed, very worried loved ones throughout the day, and they don’t think twice about taking it upon themselves to go above and beyond to comfort those in need. Cheryl Williams has worked as a volunteer at the hospital for six years. Although she has most recently been working behind the front desk, she is merely filling in for now and normally spends her time working in the Surgery Center waiting room.
“I find it is very rewarding to be able to help those who have loved ones in surgery,” Williams said .
But volunteers are not the only ones contributing to the success of Newton Medical Center – the hospital gift shop is a charity in itself. According to Gladys Niles, who is head of the 4-person team that runs the gift shop, all of the gift shop’s proceeds go to the Newton Medical Center Community Association, who then provides supplies that the hospital needs.
Without the gift shop and the numerous volunteers at Newton Medical Center, much of what goes on would not be possible.
Volunteer work has always been an important part of Newton Medical Center.
“It’s just a really vital service we couldn’t do without,” Parrish said. “I consider [the volunteers] among my closest friends. They are just caring, compassionate people.”
Volunteers are always welcomed at Newton Medical Center. For more information, or to volunteer at the hospital, call (316) 804-6007 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are available online.