When Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center first launched its volunteer program when the hospital opened in 2005, it had about 60 volunteers, and only one or two of them were teens. By 2015, the medical center fostered a strong core of 630 active volunteers, including the largest group of teen volunteers at any hospital in Washington State and Oregon, with 240 teens volunteering their time.
Volunteers can begin helping at the medical center when they are 14, with duties including greeting visitors, assisting patients and working behind the scenes in the medical center’s many departments. Upon submitting an application and being accepted into the volunteer program, volunteers must commit 200 hours of service per year. The medical center also offers a summer junior volunteer program that requires 75 hours of service, but about 80 percent of summer volunteers sign on to stay with the junior program year-round.
The teen volunteers are particularly helpful because they offer coverage in evenings and on weekends, as these are times when help is needed. The program is beneficial to teens looking for service opportunities for both school projects and college applications, but it also gives crucial experience to teens interested in careers in the medical field.
“These kids have a huge amount of responsibility,” said Arlene Kraft, the hospital’s manager of volunteer services, in a recent article in The Columbian. “They recognize how respected they are in the hospital, and I think they really step up to the plate.”
Devoted, passionate and caring volunteers are tremendously helpful for providers, helping establish a supportive, friendly atmosphere for patients and families. They play a key role in improving health care in our state.