See what a day in the life of a hospital volunteer is like
Volunteering at hospitals is a great way to perform community service by supporting healthcare workers and other staff who are often overworked — especially during a health crisis. But are hospitals still accepting volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic? The answer is yes.
Meet Marty Lichtner
Since early summer 2020, Martin Lichtner of Bloomsburg has been volunteering one day a week as a courier at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville. His assignments include picking up orders from the gift shop and delivering them to nurses’ stations, collecting batteries that need to be recycled and redistributing them once they’ve been recharged, bringing empty pharmacy carts back for refilling and even picking up rush orders for the lab — especially blood samples from the pediatric and neonatal intensive care units that need immediate processing.
“I must put in twelve-thousand steps a day,” he laughs. “And I’m happy to do it, this kind of help is always needed. But if you’re not up for that much walking, you can answer phones or help with paperwork. There’s plenty to do here, you set your own hours and any help you can give is appreciated.”
Special training for a special role
And his role as a courier is just the beginning. Three years ago, Mr. Lichtner went through special training to be a Eucharistic Minister. Since that time, he’s been volunteering every weekend at Geisinger Medical Center, administering Holy Communion, helping with paperwork and praying with Catholic patients who desire his services.
“The nurses know I provide spiritual care,” he explains. “Sometimes they tell me about a patient who’s especially troubled, and I’m happy to hear their emotional concerns, offer comfort and pray with them regardless of their religious affiliation.”
Mr. Lichtner says he feels perfectly safe volunteering during the pandemic. “We’re all wearing masks, there’s hand sanitizer everywhere and we’ve always used gloves when handling samples for the lab,” he explains.
Other opportunities for hospital volunteers
Other opportunities for volunteering at Geisinger include knitting hats or sewing blankets, loading and unloading supplies and stocking shelves at Fresh Food Farmacy locations. Volunteers also perform reception and host duties for families staying at the Ronald McDonald family rooms at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center or Geisinger Medical Center or at the House of Care in Danville.
Due to COVID-19, volunteers are not currently permitted in inpatient areas, but once those restrictions are lifted, volunteers will be needed to rock infants and socialize with patients. And if you have a certified therapy dog, the pet therapy program is always looking for new participants.
“Some roles are modified or restricted at the moment due to COVID-19, but volunteers are still needed, and I encourage anyone who’s interested to visit our website to find out more,” says Tina Sigler-McDowell, director of Volunteer Services at Geisinger.
From nuclear submarine to hospital volunteer
Our volunteers come from all walks of life, with different personal and professional backgrounds, and there’s something at our hospitals for everyone wanting to become a volunteer.
“Volunteering is a great way to be of service, and it’s kept me busy after retirement,” says Mr. Lichtner. “I started my career in the Navy on a nuclear submarine, spent decades in the nuclear power industry and retired in 2015 as a shift manager at PPL Susquehanna Steam Electric Station. I’m a person who likes to stay active, and this is a great way to do it.”
Interested in becoming a volunteer at Geisinger? Learn more.