A chance to say thank you to health service volunteers

​Barely a week has gone by during the past 25 years that Helen Herbert hasn’t volunteered for her local health service and for the past eight years her husband Ron has been by her side.

The husband and wife team is among more than 1000 generous volunteers across the Hunter New England Health district who give their time to ensure patients can enjoy some extra comforts while in HNE Health’s care

Next week is a chance to say thank you for their tireless support and efforts as part of NSW Health Volunteers Appreciation Day (Monday, 24 February).

Hunter New England Chief Executive Michael DiRienzo said volunteers provide an invaluable service to our hospitals.

“They create a positive atmosphere and provide much-appreciated support for patients through simple acts like delivering library books and newspapers, booking on-site accommodation for relatives or taking patients for a walk,” Mr DiRienzo said.

“All of these activities go a long way in making the hospital environment more welcoming and our patients’ stay in hospital more enjoyable.

“They’re also the driving force behind much needed fundraising. Volunteers in our hospitals raise  approximately one million dollars each year which allows us to purchase patient comforts and  improved equipment, including beds, wheelchairs and ventilator machines.”

Volunteers donate many of thousands of hours to ensuring patients and their families are well cared for across the district. At John Hunter Hospital alone volunteers clocked almost 40,000 hours during 2013 while 6,000 hours was donated to the John Hunter Children’s Hospital.

“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to our wonderful volunteers for their hard work and dedication to improving our facilities and increasing the comfort of patients and their family.” Mr DiRienzo said.

“They really are a remarkable group who willingly give up their time and their efforts are greatly appreciated by our staff, patients and visitors.”

Helen Herbert said she’s loved every minute of her 25 years as a volunteer.

“A lot has changed. When I first started I would cut patients’ hair, arrange flowers and wash and roll bandages. Now I pack up lollies for sale, deliver newspapers and make up admission folders for the delivery suite,” Mrs Herbert said.

“I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I love the companionship. It is one big happy family.”

Ron Herbert said his wife talked him into volunteering and now he loves everything about it.

“I’ve been a patient at the John Hunter Hospital a few times and they’ve always been good to me. It’s good to pay them back,” Mr Herbert said.

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