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Paynesville Press - December 15, 2004

PAHCS seeks volunteers for clinic/hospital

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Irene Hanson loves her job as a volunteer at the Paynesville Area Health Care System, but she could use some help. PAHCS is seeking volunteers to perform all sorts of tasks.

A new volunteer program at PAHCS aims to get more volunteers to perform a variety of duties at the hospital, the clinic, and the extended care facilities.

At a recent meeting, more than 20 potential volunteers heard Hanson describe her job and how much she enjoyed volunteering. Since holding the meeting, volunteer coordinator Jennifer Shinn has already gotten applications from five area residents who are willing to make a commitment to volunteer at PAHCS.

"We're excited about the good response to the program," Shinn said. But more even more volunteers are needed, she added.

imelda Volunteers are needed in all areas of the health care system, said Shinn, and adding an active volunteer force would improve the quality of care at the hospital, the clinics, and the extended care facilities.

Imelda Lieser volunteers in the hospital cafeteria, where she takes lunch tickets and money.

Volunteers could help the hospital by freeing medical staff to concentrate on medicine, according to Bev Mueller, the acute care administrator for PAHCS. A strong volunteer force would make a big difference in the quality of care, she added.

Shinn hopes to recruit volunteers to meet and greet visitors at the clinic and the hospital and give directions and hand out cookies and coffee, as Hanson does; to work in the cafeteria taking lunch tickets and money, as volunteers Phyllis Frauenshuh and Imelda Lieser do now; to visit one-on-one with long-term patients; to perform administrative duties such as data entry and filing; to drive residents to appointments; to help out at the nursing desk performing non-nursing duties; to serve as activity assistants; and to work on special projects. In addition, the hospital would like to open a gift shop and volunteers would be needed to staff it, said Shinn.

"They need volunteers desperately," said Frauenshuh. "They (hospital employees) can't do everything."

Frauenshuh began volunteering about five years ago - even though a formal volunteer program hadn't been active for years - as a way to give something back to PAHCS. After recovering from a back injury that put her in the Koronis Manor, Frauenshuh decided that volunteering would be a good way to help out. "It keeps me going," said Frauenshuh. "I love being with the employees; they're all my friends." Frauenshuh works Mondays through Thursdays. On Fridays or when Frauenshuh can't work, Lieser occupies the ticket-taker's seat in the cafeteria.

After retiring as a cafeteria employee from the Paynesville Area Schools in 1997, Lieser didn't hesitate last year when the cafeteria supervisor asked her to help out. Lieser, whose husband Victor died six years ago, was already an active volunteer for the R.O.S.E. Center and had a part-time job, but she understood the need.

phyllis Lieser believes she gets more back in personal rewards than she gives, an attitude taken by all three of the PAHCS volunteers.

"I feel I'm needed there," agreed Frauenshuh. "They do more for me than I do for them," she added.

Phyllis Frauenshuh - who believes she gets back more from volunteering than she gives - takes a lunch ticket from employee Evie Sorenson.

Though she's only been on the job a short time, Hanson has already begun to notice the benefits of volunteering. She became a volunteer this fall as a way to give back to the institution that helped her so much when her late husband Don was suffering from a terminal illness, she said. "Sometime along the way, one has to pay back," Hanson told potential volunteers at the meeting.

As a greeter, Hanson feels good knowing she's performing a much-needed service. "Sometimes I feel a little like a politician because I get to hold a lot of babies," said Hanson. "I can see myself doing this for a long time," she added.

Shinn aims to place volunteers in positions that suit their abilities and personalities. All three of the current volunteers claim to be especially well-suited to their jobs.

Frauenshuh is unable to walk or stand a lot, so she works at a job that allows her to sit comfortably while still performing an important task. Lieser likes getting to know new people, and working in the cafeteria has given her the opportunity to meet most of the hospital staff and many visitors. Hanson, who knows many clinic visitors by name, loves talking with clinic visitors and she especially enjoys getting to know regular visitors.

The time commitment varies for each position, but Shinn suggested a four-hour shift. Volunteers can work one, two, three or more days each week. Special projects are typically a short-term assignment, and volunteers are also needed to work on an as-needed basis, as Lieser does. Shinn is willing to be flexible when making the volunteer schedule.

Prospective volunteers can pick up an application from Shinn at the Paynesville Area Medical Clinic. Before being accepted as a volunteer, applicants must pass a criminal background check and have a tuberculosis test, the costs of which will be paid by PAHCS. For more information on volunteering, call Shinn at 320-243-7938.

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