Hospital Rolls Out ‘Community Care Cart’ for Patients
The cart aims to provide free items to help provide the patients with some relief and brighten their day. On the cart there are small donated things like lotions, back scratchers and crossword puzzles that patients can have, free of charge.
For Jim Cassidy and his wife, who both volunteer at the hospital as patient reps, the Community Care Cart adds another element to patient care that they feel is valuable.
“You try to put a smile on the patient’s face. You spend time with someone – because some of these patients – if they come from a nursing home, they have no other visitors. You are their visitor. And now with this new program, the Community Care Cart, that’s just an extra feather you’re putting out there to them,” Jim said.
Nan Wehmeyer, another volunteer with the auxiliary, agreed that the cart is a way to connect with Sentara’s patients.
“I do it because I look at the Community Care Cart as a conduit. It gets me in the room with a patient, and it allows me to get to know the patient, and that’s how I bond with them. Yes, the cart is giving things away that are free, and are things that they need, but more importantly it’s me bonding with them,” Wehmeyer said.
The auxiliary that makes the cart possible is a volunteer-based organization with 300 active volunteers comprised of adults and juniors. The junior program component is a way for high school students to get involved and give back to their community, providing them with valuable experiences at the hospital.
“We have the most robust and comprehensive junior program in Northern Virginia. That’s my opinion, and I say that because we have a year-round junior program,” said Phim Gilberry, the hospital’s Volunteer Coordinator.
As a whole, the auxiliary serves many functions at the hospital. “In addition to donating volunteer hours, our auxiliary [volunteer group] also does fundraising through various activities…Money raised benefits the community and the auxiliary has a long history of purchasing and donating much needed medical equipment and other resources,” Gilberry said.
Among the group’s many accomplishments was the recent donation of a mobile health van, which cost $130,000, purchased with funds raised by the auxiliary. The van is frequently out in the community providing much needed services. To raise funds for their projects and donations to the hospital, the auxiliary hosts sales, fundraisers and events throughout the year.
When working in the hospital, the 300 volunteers assist in administrative functions, running the hospital’s gift shop and serving as patient reps to advocate for patient’s needs.
“The things that we do here [as volunteers] are much different than what I’m told other volunteers do at other hospitals. And when I leave for the day, I feel like I’ve done something of value,” said Edie Lewis, a volunteer in the auxiliary.