NORTHAMPTON – During National Volunteer Appreciation Week, April 10 – 16, Cooley Dickinson Hospital recognizes the efforts of its 400+ volunteers and celebrates the contribution volunteers have had on the hospital's operations over the past 125 years.
A volunteer recognition luncheon is planned for Tuesday, April 19 at The Log Cabin banquet facility in Holyoke, and members of the media are invited to attend this event.
From January through December 2010, 419 volunteers logged 40,120 hours by working in 22 different hospital departments and at offsite locations. Volunteers donate their time in the Coffee and Gift shops and at information desks. They provide comfort and care in the Emergency Department, deliver mail, assist Surgical Day Care staff, fold gowns, and serve as patient representatives to help with patient satisfaction. In the past two years, Cooley Dickinson has seen a 20% increase in the number of volunteers.
Over the past many decades, volunteers assisted in other areas that have since been altered to keep up with technology. Before digital cameras became common, volunteers took pictures of the newborn babies for families. Volunteers also assisted in the "Tel-Med" program, a phone service in which patients could call in to find out about something from the hospital and listen to a tape with the information. This later became a phone service run by volunteers for patients. Volunteers also used to make physician referrals by phone. Today, CDH offers a free, round-the-clock physician referral service that is available via the CDH website as well as a toll-free number that people can call to find a Cooley Dickinson-affiliated provider.
Dorothy Hurley, a former nurse for 20 years at CDH, has been volunteering for 24 years. Hurley first volunteered for the Tel-Med program before moving on to physician referrals, and later the Emergency Department. She now volunteers at the main staircase information desk where she answers phones, directs patients and works with Hampshire Health Connect.
When asked what she thought of the volunteering experience, Hurley said that she has found volunteering "very interesting and very rewarding. I've enjoyed every minute of it."
Says Robin Kline, director of Volunteer Services: "Volunteers over the years have been a creative and sustaining force at the hospital. They have raised funds, assisted staff and created good will in the community they serve. We look forward to the next 100 years together."
Throughout 2011, Cooley Dickinson Hospital celebrates its 125th anniversary. On January 1, 1886, Cooley Dickinson Hospital opened its doors to the "sick and poor of Hatfield, Northampton and Whately, where they could be tenderly and kindly cared for without charge." Through a generous bequest, Caleb Cooley Dickinson, a distant cousin of poet Emily Dickinson, donated his estate to fund the construction of the original hospital, which was a two and a half story wooden structure with a slate roof that was built on 10 acres of the former Denniston farm.