Volunteers enrich all parts of the YNHH experience

YNHH volunteers not only enhance the patients' experience, they are an invaluable asset to employees. Staff rely on volunteers' help with the patient mapping project, in which volunteers work with patients and families to help "map" the process a patient goes through from the time they enter YNHH through discharge. Their goal is to identify opportunities to improve internal processes and procedures. At a meeting to discuss upcoming mapping projects are (l-r) Richard Worms, volunteer, patient mapping; Crystal Clemons, operations improvement leader, Internal Consulting Group; Maryellen Pappas, volunteer, patient mapping; and Kathleen Merwin, operations improvement leader, Internal Consulting Group.

More than 2,875 strong, Yale New Haven Hospital volunteers impact just about every area of the hospital and have a positive influence on the patient experience, the employee experience and the experience of those in the YNHH community.

YNHH volunteers are celebrating National Volunteer Week April 12-18 with the theme: Volunteers Enriching the Yale New Haven Hospital Experience.

"The annual National Volunteer Week is always a good time to recognize our volunteers for all their great work," said Lynelle Abel, YNHH director of Volunteer and Guest Services. "During this year's celebration, we are reflecting on how much of an impact our volunteers have on all aspects of Yale New Haven. Through dozens of programs, volunteers enrich the experiences of patients and their families, employees and our many community partners."

YNHH volunteers, who range in age from high school students to seniors, served nearly 232,700 hours in 2014 in more than 150 hospital areas. In addition to the New Haven campuses, volunteers serve in other locations, including the Shoreline, Temple and North Haven medical centers, Long Wharf, Bridgeport Hospital pediatrics and Smilow Cancer Care Centers throughout the state.

Volunteers continue to have a positive impact on patients' experiences with programs such as Oasis for Healing, which includes Reiki practitioners who offer bedside relaxation sessions to help reduce stress and anxiety, and the Patient-4-Patient volunteers, who give patients the opportunity to talk with a volunteer who has experienced a similar diagnosis. Even volunteers without direct patient contact influence patients' experiences, including those who serve on Patient and Family Advisory Councils throughout the hospital and provide the feedback necessary to make informed decisions about patient care.

Volunteers impact YNHH staff experiences, as well. They provide services to more than 100 departments and assist not only with routine duties, but help design and develop YNHH initiatives that help employees with their work.

Volunteers also work on YNHH's behalf in the community, including staffing the Looking Forward Advisory Council, which raises funds for complementary services for people undergoing cancer treatments, and the Off Campus Classroom program, which helps prepare students with disabilities for the workforce. Hospital Auxiliary members share important health information in the community and as raise money for vital hospital projects and initiatives.

YNHH will celebrate its volunteers at the annual appreciation dinner April 22 at Anthony's Oceanview Restaurant in New Haven.

"Volunteers are integral to the overall YNHH experience, and our volunteer force is strong and effective," Abel said. "We continue to grow, recruit more volunteers and add new programs that will benefit patients, families, employees and the community and enrich the YNHH experience. Please remember to thank our volunteers for all that they do."