After a two-and-a-half-year COVID hiatus, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s (RVH) volunteers are once again lighting up the hallways of the health centre with their smiles and iconic blue vests.
“The health centre has felt so different without our volunteers,” says Gail Hunt, RVH president and Chief Executive Officer. “We have relied on their assistance for 125 years and the pandemic has emphasized how invaluable our Blue Brigade is to RVH, especially to our patients.”
Volunteers like Kate Cullen, who has returned to the Specialized Seniors Care unit to help with weekly activities such as exercise group and relaxation therapy.
“Being able to volunteer virtually during the pandemic was great, but nothing beats being back on-site and supporting patients and staff face-to-face”, says Cullen, who has actively volunteered at RVH since 2018, and most recently during the pandemic volunteered her time to do virtual visiting with patients. “I cherish the opportunity to give back to my community and support all of the incredible, hard work healthcare workers are doing.”
All volunteers returning to the health centre are required to complete a mandatory re-orientation, which includes additional Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) training, must provide proof of having received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and adhere to RVH’s mandatory masking policy.
“Although their presence was dearly missed at RVH, we needed to ensure we had a plan in place for a safe return,” says Darrell Sewell, Vice President People Experience & Chief Human Resources Officer. “Safety of our patients, volunteers and staff remains our number one priority.”
Over 40 per cent of pre-COVID volunteers have participated in a re-orientation session, with more scheduled in the coming weeks and months. Volunteers are returning in phases, with the initial focus being patient-facing positions that provide valued assistance to staff, with an aim to have all volunteers back in the health centre by early 2023. At that time, RVH will turn their attention to recruiting new volunteers to join the Blue Brigade.
“During the pandemic our volunteers continued to cheer us on, including the RVH Auxiliary who worked tirelessly to raise much needed funds to support the health centre,” says Sewell. “These are incredibly dedicated and passionate people and we thank them for always supporting RVH.”