Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fauquier Health Jr. Volunteers Trade Sun for Service




This entry was written by Connie Lyons, a freelance writer and a volunteer at Fauquier Health. The photos were taken by Peggy Cybrowski, also a Fauquier Health volunteer.
“I’m having a lot of fun.” This was the sentiment echoed by six of Fauquier Health’s Junior Volunteers. They’re not talking about trips to the beach, or rock concerts, but about their experiences working with patients, nurses and doctors at the hospital as summer volunteers.

This summer the hospital has 83 Junior Volunteers. In order to be accepted into the program, they have to fill out a lengthy application, provide a teacher reference, and go through an interview, a health screening and two days of training.

“You gain as much as the patients,” said Tevy Ribeiro, 17. “You learn a lot from the patients’ experiences, what they’re going through, how they’ve dealt with it.” Tevy -- who is a 2010 graduate of Fauquier High School with a 4.2 grade point average and a student at the Mountain Vista Governor’s School -- is headed to the University of Virginia, where she plans to major in biology.

She is aiming for a career in medicine, either human or veterinary. “After my experiences here, I’m leaning toward human medicine,” she said. Tevy heard about the volunteer program through her high school guidance counselor; this is her third summer as a volunteer. Working with Fauquier Hospital’s Concierge/Patient Advocate Lisa Spitzer, Tevy has formed some close relationships with her patients. “One of them is making me a case for my cell phone. She’s adopted me as a sort of honorary granddaughter. Another, badly burned 30 years ago and never fully recovered, keeps his hopes high through his faith in God. Working in the hospital has changed what I want to do with my life.”

MacKenzie Earl volunteered for the program because, “I want to be useful; I like doing community service. Here, I go around to the patients and make sure they’re comfortable, that they don’t need anything. We bring the Comfort Carousel, a wagon full of things like hand-made afghans, toiletries, stuffed animals, crossword puzzles/Sudoku books and backscratchers. Everyone loves the back-scratchers.”

MacKenzie, who is an eighth grader at Cedar Lee Middle School, is an accomplished actress; she starred as Helen Keller in Fauquier Community Theater’s recent production of The Miracle Worker. “I’m having a lot of fun,” she said. “Besides, it’s a great feeling to make someone happy; to make sure their stay in the hospital is really nice. When you come in the patient’s room, and he or she is really glad to see you, it just makes your day.”

Hailey Miller, 15 and a sophomore at Fauquier High School, is volunteering for the second straight summer. “I started here last year because lots of my older friends had done it, and said it was great. Besides, I want to be a nurse and I wanted to get used to the hospital atmosphere.”

Why not a doctor? “I love to help people. A nurse spends more time with the patients. I want the experience of being with the patient from the time he or she comes in the door until they leave the hospital.”

Hailey is following in the footsteps of some family members. “Lots of them have medical careers, mostly as doctors,” she said. “I love it here. It’s a great experience to have, one I plan to continue until I go off to college. I love being around the patients.” Hailey also enjoys working with the medical staff. “It’s fascinating to take in the staff atmosphere; to see how they act and interact. It’s really awesome. The nurses work really hard, both singly and as a team. And it’s also fascinating to watch how the doctors work in the Emergency Department.”

“It’s not like what you see on the TV shows,” said Megan Graap. Her sister, Katy, introduced her to volunteering. “It is a lot of fun,” said Megan. “Some of it’s upsetting, but on the other hand, the babies being born give you a really up experience.” Katie, 16, is a junior at Kettle Run High School, and thinks she might want a career in medicine. “I’m looking into it. This is my second summer volunteering here. It’s great to feel like you’re helping someone, making their day better.”

Courtney Winfrey, 13 and a student at Cedar Lee Middle School, wants to be a doctor. “I want to help people, that’s why I’m doing this,” she said. “And I wanted to get used to this kind of work environment. It’s really cool and fun. And the people who work here are really nice.”

Courtney, whose stepfather is in the U.S. Navy, has lived all over the country. She enjoys talking to patients, helping to get them drinks and food, and doing paperwork. “Working in the Emergency Department is a little harder,” she said. “It’s fast-paced, and sometimes it’s hard to deal with all the stress. You never know what’s going to be coming in the door.”

Ashley Kaase has no ambivalence about where she wants her life to go. “I want to be a heart surgeon,” she said decisively. “I want to save people’s lives.” Ashley, who is 14 and a ninth grade student at Fauquier High School, plans to go to the University of Virginia. This is her second summer as a volunteer. “It looks good on my record,” she said matter-of-factly. “Besides, it’s fun to get to know people.”

Ashley is working in Medical Imaging, changing chart numbers, filing and faxing. “We all get to work in the different departments,” she said. “The Emergency Department is the best; that’s where I’d like to be. It’s fun to be around the different environments and watch how they function. Here in Imaging, I get to look at all different types of X-rays. I really like working with the doctors.”

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