Volunteers Are at the Heart of Atlanta-Area Hospitals A helping hand
By Beth Hermes
Whether you are new to the Atlanta area or are a long-time resident, contributing your time and talents as a volunteer provides opportunities to meet new people and build your network, learn new skills, connect with your community and improve confidence and self-esteem. With several major hospital systems in metro Atlanta, thousands of volunteer opportunities exist, providing a host of benefits to those who seek to serve.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA)
With 13 neighborhood locations around Atlanta, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) utilizes more than 7,000 volunteers in a variety of positions, including customer service, administrative support, gift shop, patient room delivery and patient and family support. CHOA volunteer coordinators match the interests and availability of volunteers with the most urgent needs of the hospital, providing a rewarding experience for staff, volunteers and patients alike. What’s more, volunteer opportunities are available for people of all ages; there are even programs specifically for college students (The Children’s College Volunteer Program), teens (The VolunTeen Program) and children (Young Friends). The system also offers a Family Volunteer Day, as well as corporate volunteer and giving opportunities.
Volunteers must fill out an application and interview with the volunteer coordinator, as well as score at least 80 percent on CHOA’s volunteer assessment form. Additionally, all volunteers must go through a background check; they also must provide proof of vaccinations like measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), chickenpox and tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap), as well as be willing to receive an annual tuberculosis (TB) screening and flu shot. CHOA offers additional training as required for assigned tasks, and volunteers should plan to commit to a minimum of one three-hour shift each week for at least a year.
Piedmont Healthcare utilizes volunteers in more than 20 departments across its nine Atlanta-area locations, providing opportunities in administrative, medical support and everything in between. Volunteers help maintain the hospital system’s standard of excellent care, and participants often forge friendships with patients, hospital staff and their fellow volunteers.
Volunteers who work directly with patients may serve as greeters, answer phones, assist patients in wheelchairs, provide directions and offer comfort for families and friends when needed. Staff-support volunteers may assist with filing, data entry and labeling patient charts. Fortunately, a host of opportunities exist based on volunteer interest and the needs of the hospital. From Admissions and Medical Records to Rehabilitation Services, the Diabetes Resource Center and the Piedmont Heart Institute, there’s something for everyone.
WellStar Health System
Volunteer opportunities vary from hospital to hospital within WellStar’s network of 12 locations throughout the Atlanta area, providing tasks that suit the needs and experience levels of the volunteers.
Opportunities at Wellstar include working at the information desk or in the gift shop, assisting members of the nursing staff and working with members of the ER, OR and other departments as needed. At some locations, volunteers operate the courtesy shuttle. Wellstar also utilizes volunteers in its Women’s Center, as well as in the Cancer Center and First Steps programs. What’s more, the North Fulton location relies upon the work of volunteers to assist with fundraising efforts.
An online application form is the first step toward being considered for a volunteer position with WellStar Health System. Applicants must then go through an interview with a volunteer coordinator, attend an orientation and purchase a uniform.
When the new Northside-Cherokee facility opened in 2017, the increased services and new areas of need more than doubled the number of volunteers required for peak efficiency. Northside-Cherokee, located in Canton, is just one of three acute-care hospitals in the Northside network that also includes dozens of outpatient and specialty centers throughout the metro Atlanta area. Between the hospitals and outpatient facilities, there are volunteer opportunities that include working in the gift shop, delivering flowers to patient rooms, assisting with pictures of newborns in the nursery, offering support at the information desk, shuttling patients and visitors between the hospital and the parking lots, supporting patients in the Cancer Institute and and participating in cancer awareness initiatives, among other options. For instance, at the Atlanta location, volunteers assist with puppet shows at area elementary schools.
To be considered as a volunteer with the Northside Hospital network, applicants must be at least 18 years of age. All applicants must complete a background check, as well as agree to a TB skin test and annual flu shot. Following the completion of a service orientation and safety training, Northside volunteers purchase a uniform, which is worn during every work shift. A commitment to volunteer at Northside includes a minimum four-hour shift per week, totaling 100 hours per year, and a minimum two years of service.
With the goal of providing ideal patient and family experiences, Emory utilizes volunteers at Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory Johns Creek and Emory Clinic. Volunteer opportunities include assisting in clinical departments, supporting the gift shop and admissions department, visiting patients with book carts, providing visitor support in the ICU and surgery waiting rooms and more. Volunteers are also needed to direct visitors through the facility (wayfinding).
Volunteers must fill out an online application, after which they are invited to an Open House event to learn more about the opportunities within the Emory network. All volunteers must be up-to-date on vaccines, complete (and pass) a TB skin test and be open to receiving the seasonal flu vaccine, as well as pass a criminal background check. Service requirements include a minimum of three to four hours per week for a four- to six-month volunteer commitment. Additionally, teens ages 15 to 18 can participate in the VolunTeen Program during the summer.