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Gilchrist Volunteers Find New Ways to Serve During the Pandemic

Our volunteers are the heart and soul of Gilchrist. They share the gifts of their time and talents every day to make a difference in the lives of people with serious illness. They fill a critical role on the team, providing companionship and respite to exhausted caregivers. They offer presence and simple things like touch that mean so much to patients who would otherwise be alone. But in mid-March, these traditional face-to-face visits by our incredible volunteers had to be put on hold.

These are strange times for all of us. Our volunteers miss visiting their patients and helping the staff at Gilchrist’s inpatient centers. We receive calls all the time asking, “When can we come back?” COVID-19 is proving challenging on many fronts, and as we’re all learning how to navigate this new normal, we are so grateful for our volunteers who are eager to remain engaged, learn new skills and technologies, and step outside their comfort zone to provide support to our families.

Volunteers in Action

Since March, our volunteers have sewn more than 2,000 cloth face masks for our teams to distribute to families. They’ve dropped off food to the staff at the inpatient units and sent encouraging videos, thanking our frontline staff for all that they are doing.

Our Gilchrist Ambassadors have begun making “virtual” presentations to community groups and churches.

Our Bereavement volunteers are leading Zoom grief groups, and our patient care volunteers are calling and FaceTiming with their patients.

And our We Honor Veterans volunteers have been conducting virtual Veteran Salutes to Service to continue honoring veterans under Gilchrist’s care.

The Volunteer Services team is grateful for our colleagues who have collaborated with us to create meaningful ways our volunteers can continue to serve while we remain physically distanced.

Supporting the Elderly in Our Community

We will soon roll out two new ways we can support our Elder Medical Care clients:

· Phone Buddy volunteers will be matched up with two to three patients who are isolated and would benefit from a friendly check-in call once a week. These volunteers will act as liaisons between the patient and the Elder Medical Care team, and these calls will serve as an opportunity to make the kind of human connection during this pandemic that we could all use.

· Pantry to Porch food delivery volunteers will offer wellness checks and provide contactless delivery of food from area food banks.

We look forward to the day we can return to normal, bringing our heart and soul volunteers back to sit bedside and offer caring touch. In the meantime, we will continue to support our families from afar and adapt to new ways of doing it. To learn more about Gilchrist’s Volunteer program, visit gilchristcares.org/volunteer.

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