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In This Issue:
Kris DeGraw Danna Sets New Plans in Motion Peter Kijac prepares for his volunteer role.
One evening each week when Peter Kijac, senior financial coordinator, Research Administration, pulls on a navy blue jacket donning the BWH Volunteer & Community Access Services Logo. He leaves his office at 10 Brookline Place and, instead of heading for home, he steers his bicycle down Brookline Ave. to 75 Francis Street, where he spends the next four hours with patients in the Emergency Department (ED).
Kijac, who has volunteered in this capacity for just over two years, shared his experiences with 10 new volunteers who recently underwent in-depth training around issues critical for any hospital representative – paid or not.
“It’s a simple thing for me to do, but it has such a tremendous impact on the patients,” says Kijac. “I may only get them a pillow, direct them to the phone or act as a liaison with a caregiver, but to them, it makes a world of difference.
In June, the ED and Volunteer and Community Access Services kicked off a two-day, pilot training program aimed at retaining volunteers and providing the most efficient and effective service to the hospital. The training is one of a series of efforts on the part of Kris DeGraw Danna, director of Volunteer and Community Access Services, and her staff to ensure that the 600-plus individuals who do not take home a paycheck for their labors here at BWH are nonetheless equipped to render reliable services.
“The ED pilot program grew out of ideas that Bill Briggs, RN, assistant nurse manager and volunteer supervisor in the ED, brought to me,” says DeGraw Danna. “This training is the first of its kind, but there will be more to come, thanks to the extraordinary support from staff supervising volunteers.”
DeGraw Danna credits Briggs—along with Barbara Stowe, training coordinator, Volunteer Services, Jean Mansfield, RN, ED care facilitator, and Dee Dee Mariano, Patient/Family Relations —with developing the curriculum for the ED training. Briggs kicked off the event with a treasure hunt that required participants to go to the Peter Bent Brigham Lobby and find trivia about the hospital’s history.
“Bill and the team created a two-day event that was fun, interesting and packed with useful information for the volunteers. This kind of training helps the volunteers to feel that they are an integral part of the hospital’s mission,” says DeGraw Danna. “It arms them with the information they need to be effective in their roles.”
During her first year with the hospital—DeGraw Danna joined BWH in July 2001—she has focused her efforts on systems to ensure compliance and promote a professional image. This has included strategic communication and alignment with outside corporations, community organizations and industry policymakers in addition to the volunteers themselves. While she was busy organizing her department systems, though, DeGraw Danna says she witnessed the power of volunteers in the health-care setting.
In May, the hospital recognized this power with its annual Volunteer Recognition and Celebration, the theme of which recalled the winter Olympics: “Celebrating the Olympic-sized Spirit of Our Volunteers.”
“We used a torch as a symbol because the volunteers are the torch-bearers of so many things: they pass hope on to patients; inspiration to staff and knowledge to fellow volunteers,” says DeGraw Danna. “They give so much of themselves.”
Looking forward, Danna says that the department will be creating more volunteer training programs like the one in the ED. Additionally, more ED trainings are planned for the fall, when new volunteers often knock at BWH’s doors. DeGraw Danna also plans to work with BWH departments to foster stronger ties between her department and community organizations; continue to build a professional and reliable service force for the hospital; and speak out on behalf of hospital volunteers by making their “Olympic” efforts better understood on a more global scale.
“You hear so much about education mentorship,” says DeGraw Danna. “Volunteers deserve the recognition too. They will sit with a patient for hours in outpatient infusion/transfusion in the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic and engage in conversation. They provide a sensitive ear and a warm, friendly smile to families in highly emotional situations. These people are high-touch and are a major part of what makes BWH the world-renowned institution that it is.”