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How ‘wonderful’ it is to volunteer

Haub, Hood make a difference at UnityPoint

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Bill Hood, a volunteer at UnityPoint Health - Trinity Regional Medical Center, cleans a wheel chair with disinfecting wipes recently. Hood has been volunteering at the hospital since January of 2016. This past week marked National Healthcare Volunteer Week.

Hospitals aren’t always the easiest places to crack a smile. And sometimes it’s hard to navigate the hallways if you aren’t used to visiting.

That’s why volunteers like Janet Haub and Bill Hood are so valuable at UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center, according to Kathy Moe, manager of volunteer services. The hospital paid tribute to its volunteers this past week during National Healthcare Volunteer Week.

“Our volunteers are vital,” Moe said. “They support our staff in ways that can be quantified and ways that can’t be.”

Haub began volunteering Jan. 28, 2019. She’s volunteered over 700 hours of her time.

At one point, she developed a bond with a patient she helped.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Janet Haub, a volunteer at UnityPoint Health - Trinity Regional Medical Center, stands at the front of the hospital recently. Haub helps between 35 and 50 visitors find their way around the hospital during a 4-hour shift. She said volunteering is a good feeling and she enjoys helping others.

“One man was just so kind,” she said. “He would always give you the biggest smile when he came in.”

And in return, Haub let him borrow her reading glasses from time to time.

“He always borrowed my reading glasses,” she said. “We would joke about that a lot.”

Haub said she hasn’t seen that particular patient since the pandemic. But that’s just one example of the difference volunteers make.

Haub, a retired teacher from Prairie Valley Community School District, helps visitors get where they need to go.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Bill Hood, a volunteer at UnityPoint Health - Trinity Regional Medical Center, looks on after sharing a conversation with a visitor recently. Hood has earned the nickname Mr. Wonderful at the hospital. He said he's not going to argue with it.

She guides anywhere from 35 to 50 people a day during a four-hour shift.

Hood also helps people find their way. He’s been volunteering since Jan. 20, 2016. He’s logged 938 hours of volunteer time.

“Bill was one of our staff people before he retired,” Moe said. “He loved us so much, he decided to come back.”

And apparently the feeling is mutual since Hood has earned the nickname “Mr. Wonderful.”

“That’s his nickname and he kind of likes that,” Moe said.

“And who I am to argue that?” Hood said. “My daughter (Angie Tracy) got me the license plates that say so. If she thinks I am, I’ll go with it.”

Hood said he tries to make people feel comfortable.

“Nobody wants to be here, so we try our best to brighten their day,” he said. “Some small talk as we take them places. Most people are more than happy to have a conversation. Some are really sick and if they don’t answer, you just make sure they are taken care of.”

Prior to his retirement in 2012, Hood worked 43 years doing telephone construction work for Frontier.

Retired life at home didn’t last long.

“I lasted about six weeks after retirement before my wife told me I needed something to do,” Hood said.

Next, Hood worked as a valet at the hospital.

“She applied for me,” Hood said. “So I thank her for that.”

Later, he transitioned into a volunteer role.

Volunteers typically help in the cancer center, critical care reception, gift shop, surgery and other areas.

Hood said he really didn’t interact with many people during his years working for Frontier. Moe said it’s a shame he didn’t work more with people because visitors seem to enjoy having him around.

“It gives you satisfaction to help people out,” Hood said. “It’s been really rewarding for me.”

For a time during the pandemic, volunteers were limited. And the hospital staff noticed.

“Having our volunteers really helps our staff and the staff was having to leave their clinical duties to come and get patients when we had no volunteers and that really took away from patient care,” Moe said. “The staff is in their role that they were hired to do. We don’t want to take nurses away from their department.”

Hood said he missed everyone when he wasn’t allowed to volunteer.

“When this virus was going on we weren’t allowed to come and I just really, really missed it,” Hood said. “All the volunteers I work with, I just really missed everybody. So pleased to be back.”

Haub said sometimes people don’t come with anyone else to the hospital, so they appreciate some interaction.

“It’s just such a good feeling and it’s so nice to meet different people and help different people,” Haub said. “There are so many people that come alone and you just want to help them. It’s such a good feeling to help people and I hope people would help my parents if they were in that situation.”

Hood and Haub plan to keep volunteering for some time.

“I am going to keep doing it as long as I can,” Hood said.

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