Just about anyone who has ever spent time on the Fort Dodge campus of Trinity Regional Medical Center knows that a large cadre of volunteers helps make the lives of both patients and visitors easier.
Orchestrating that important component of the hospital's operation is the mission of Kathy Moe, who has been the manager of volunteer and guest services at Trinity since 2002.
Moe said in a typical year there are 120 to 130 volunteers who in aggregate contribute about 22,500 service hours. She said most weekdays there are 10 to 12 volunteers on duty at any given time between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. and 20 or more are present throughout the course of a day.
According to Moe, volunteers commit to at least two four-hour shifts a month, but most donate much more of their time. Some of the volunteers choose to be of service several days a week, she said.
The volunteers represent a broad cross-section of the community. The majority are retired - partly because of their availability - but "we accept volunteers from age 16 to 100," Moe said.
Moe's duties at Trinity are wide-ranging. Overseeing the volunteer system and the hospital's gift shop, however, are at the heart of her role.
At Your Service
A weekly look at area residents who have chosen a life of public service
Position: Manager of Volunteer and Guest Services, TRMC
Town: Lives in Moorland, works in Fort Dodge
Hours worked: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
How to reach her: 574-6099
Meet Kathy Moe
Moe lives in Moorland. She is originally from Cedar Rapids, where she graduated from Linn Mar High School. She then attended Iowa State University. Moe ran a gift shop in Roelyn, subsequently began working part time in the Trinity gift shop in 1990 and soon became its manager. In 2002, she assumed the role of volunteer director. The gift shop remains part of her portfolio and makes use of both volunteers and paid staff.
Moe said soon after assuming her present position she became active in a personal membership group of the American Hospital Association that facilitates communication between professionals who have similar roles to hers in hospitals across North America - the 1,200-member Association for Healthcare Voluntary Resource Professionals.
"I am the only person in this hospital who does my job," she said. "So I needed to reach out to other entities to find out best practices, to find out what programs other people are doing."
Moe soon became a leader of the AHVRP and is currently completing a three-year term on its board of directors. In January, she will assume the presidency of the association, being the first Iowan to be elected to that leadership post.
"It's been hugely rewarding for me," Moe said. "It's a wonderful way to advocate for the profession of volunteerism, advocate for this profession that I think is amazing."
"I'm responsible for all of our volunteer services, which includes recruiting, interviewing, placing, training, retaining volunteers," she said.
Moe stressed that the role of volunteers is to strengthen the ability of the hospital's paid staff members to maximize their effectiveness.
"It's very important that the volunteers not supplant any employee work," she said. "So they do things that will enhance what that employee will do. They will never do anything clinical. They are only there to assist the staff so the staff can do the life-saving work they are hired to do."
The tasks volunteers handle are varied.
"We do a lot of patient escort and transport," Moe explained. "We do specimen delivery. We have reception services in several of our high-traffic areas. ... The volunteer really does what I would call comfort types of things - things that lower and ease apprehension. Obviously, way-finding is a big deal. Volunteers can spend 10, 15 or 20 minutes walking somebody through the facility. Helping them get to their destination, whereas they are not taking a staff person away from the bedside of a patient."
Volunteers are present just about everywhere on the vast Trinity campus. Areas where volunteers are used include the Atrium Surgery Reception, Cancer Center, Critical Care Reception, Emergency Department Registration, Diabetes Center, Endo Center, Pain Center, Renal Services, Eye Bay and Gift Shop. And the list could go on.
Moe said leading the volunteer piece of the Trinity universe is work she enjoys and finds immensely satisfying.
"I love my job," she said. "Identifying areas where we can a make a difference is really fun for me."
Moe also said the positive impact service can have on the life of the volunteer is an aspect of the undertaking she treasures.
"Our volunteers come to us to give back," she explained. "They almost all come here because they want to give something of themselves - they want to help others. What happens is the gift they receive without expectation is the gift of friendship, because they meet so many other like-minded people and they become friends with each other. To me, that is so rewarding. I really love that part."