JOPLIN, Mo. – Volunteers at Mercy Hospital Joplin donate their time in a variety of ways. During national Volunteer Week from April 23-29, the focus is on specially trained volunteers who help put patients at ease.
The Patient Experience Liaison Program at Mercy Hospital Joplin has existed for a year and a half. This volunteer rounding program has touched the lives of roughly 6,000 patients since its inception.
Patient experience liaisons receive highly specialized training to make bedside rounds and compassionately converse with patients and family members to make sure they are receiving excellent care. These volunteers can provide comfort items such as pillows, blankets, beverages or snacks, assist with menu completions or pray with patients.
“These volunteers are very important to the success of our ministry here,” said Kim Kory, customer service manager at the hospital. “In the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy, these liaisons provide a caring presence for patients.”
One of the volunteers is Darlene Green, who has helped since 2004 after her husband was a patient for two months before passing away. Green, who also has been a patient, has been in the year-old program since its inception in the new hospital.
“I like being around patients, talking to them and doing whatever I can for them. I take it to heart,” she said. “I just want to be someplace where I can help out. I like to talk, joke and laugh with the patients. For some, I think it helps make their day.”
Green serves as a patient experience liaison one day a week and sees patients on several floors of the hospital. Some she may only meet once. With long-term patients, however, she gets a chance to become more than an acquaintance.
Many patients simply welcome a friendly conversation. That companionship, even if only for a few minutes, can make a difference for patients, Kory said.
“Sometimes patients are lonely and want an understanding ear or an empathetic shoulder,” she said. “By spending time with the patients, they’re able to have a powerful impact.”
All of the volunteers’ training, which includes federal privacy compliance, infection control, patient safety, communication skills and handling difficult situations, is meant to help them carry on Mercy’s mission.
“If our founder, Catherine McAuley, were alive today,” Kory said, “she would applaud them for their efforts to bring to life the healing ministry of Jesus through their compassionate care and exceptional service.”