collage of four HCA Volunteers collage of four HCA Volunteers
In Our Hospitals

Volunteers Bring Compassion, Energy and Experience

May 06, 2022

Whether they’re just starting their careers or have spent decades in healthcare, our volunteers make a difference every day.

From providing a kind word to a patient or family, to helping a hospital visitor find their way around the facility, volunteers are vital to our success.

This is Lorene Oates’ 10th year as the volunteer coordinator at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell Idaho. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lorene managed about 125 volunteers — most of them students and retirees. Some volunteers have transitioned into full-time HCA Healthcare colleagues, while others are former colleagues themselves. Today, as facilities continue to reboot, Lorene works alongside about 65 volunteers — nine of whom are retired healthcare workers.

“They all bring with them a solid background of hospital process and are fantastic at understanding and expecting the needs of our patients and staff,” Lorene says. “They are an amazing asset. This blending of hospital experience melds well with guiding others who are new to healthcare.”

The key to successfully recruiting volunteers is to leverage the volunteers themselves, she says. West Valley’s Refer a Friend program encourages current volunteers to invite their friends to join them. The volunteers distribute business cards with Lorene’s information on them. There’s even room to add their own names on the cards.

“I often tell them to give these only to people that they want to spend time with,” Lorene says. “The volunteers have recruited some terrific volunteers through this process. Our Gift Shop [colleagues are] also excellent at offering the opportunity to people as they are browsing in the shop. In many cases, they hand them an application on the spot!”

Volunteers who understand the compassion and sensitivity to care is paramount in a hospital.

— Lorene Oates, volunteer coordinator, West Valley Medical Center, Caldwell Idaho

Whether a volunteer has spent decades in healthcare or lacks any experience at all — they are valuable to West Valley, according to Lorene. There are unmeasurable benefits to having a range of healthcare experience among volunteers, because they learn from each other. She says the youthful energy of student volunteers also inspires the West Valley staff. An eagerness to learn sets them apart.

“In some ways, they remind us of who we were once. They’re young and enthusiastic and motivated,” Lorene says.

This year, she manages several international students from The College of Idaho. They have been among the best volunteers she’s had. They excel academically and want to be healthcare professionals.

“They’re all lovely. This is the most fun I’ve had with volunteers in a long time,” she says. “They all speak multiple languages; they are all just individually unique characters.”

The students, who are from Nepal, Cameroon and the Capital Republic of Congo, have assisted at the information desk, in patient rooms and in labs and wound care areas. They are pre-med majors and consider their volunteer experiences at West Valley a steppingstone to their future careers.

“As the volunteer coordinator, I feel that I can teach many things about being a great volunteer. But to also have volunteers that understand the compassion and sensitivity to care, which is paramount in a hospital, is something that many times only comes with time and experience,” she says. “Whether it was time spent in a hospital with a loved one observing the care you received or the years you worked directly at the bedside, these experiences are significant and important to our volunteer team’s success.”

Meet some of the volunteers making a difference at West Valley Medical Center:

HCA Volunteer, Maella Djoube Fodop

Maella Djoube Fodop

Maella began thinking of leaving her native Cameroon when civil war broke out in her country. Her academic achievements allowed her to advance her education internationally.

What inspired you to pursue medicine?

“My father has always been a sick person, and it might sound cliche, but my aspiration stems from his desire for me to be a doctor after his attempt of making me work at NASA. I grew up near a hospital, and aside from my thirst for working in this domain to help people like my father, my exposure to that environment reinforced my interest and passion in the health field.”

What have you learned since volunteering at West Valley?

“It has just been a couple of months since I started here, and I love every part of it. One thing I learned about medicine is how important patient care and the relationship they have with their providers is. I am a big observer, and I pay extreme attention to details, which is a plus skill to have in medicine. Finally, patience. Patience and humility are the keys to success.”

HCA Volunteer Thandiswa Mdluli

Thandiswa Mdluli

Thandiswa had scholarship offers from institutions in the United Kingdom, Canada and the U.S. She chose The College of Idaho because they offered her a full scholarship that would help her earn a medical degree.

What have you learned about medicine since volunteering at West Valley?

 “I had a chance to volunteer in the Med Surg unit. I was impressed by the work the nurses do — from taking patients’ vitals to simply being there for the patients. It made me realize that medicine is such a personal service, that one needs to place the human first before viewing someone as just another patient.”

What have you learned since volunteering at West Valley?

 “The main thing I have learned is that there is a lot that goes into a hospital — no task is too little or too big here. Every single person who works in a hospital plays a vital role in providing a service to people, a service that helps to improve their lives — even when they do not realize it.”

HCA Volunteer Dipesh Pokharel

Dipesh Pokharel

Dipesh wanted to study medicine in the U.S. because of access to advanced technology and an opportunity to learn from the world’s leading health professionals. He pursues medicine because of his deep desire to help others.

Why are you drawn to the medical profession?

“I love the interaction with the people and like to serve the community. I have a desire to make a strong impact on the medical field and peoples’ lives, as well as to serve the underprivileged in the different parts of the world.”

What have you learned since volunteering at West Valley?

 “I have learned to communicate with patients and have provided them guidance about the appropriate department for their concerns. Also, time management, working as a group and making the connection with the different medical departments, and knowing about their work. Most importantly, I have learned to be in a medical environment where we have to help our patients who can have any kind of complications.”

HCA Volunteer Eudes Johan Soussa

Eudes Johan Soussa

Eudes goes by “JoJo.” He was born and raised in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo. He’s a senior biomedical sciences major, with a pre-med specialty.

Why are you drawn to the medical profession?

“Growing up, I have always loved helping people, making them feel safe and healthy both mentally and physically. I believe that this is the main reason why I’m drawn to the medical profession. I want to be there for the people. I love interacting with patients and finding ways to make them feel better. On top of that, where I come from, the healthcare system is not as rich as here, so therefore I want to be that man who gains as much knowledge and skill as possible to help my community.”

What have you learned about medicine since volunteering at West Valley?

“West Valley has given me the opportunity to taste the beauty of medicine. It allows me to interact with patients every time they come; I help them in the best way possible with all the resource(s) that I have. I pay attention to their needs the moment they enter the building, and I’m happy to see them leave the building safe and sound. On top of that, I’m also learning more about hospitals’ responsibilities, confidentialities and accessibilities.”