LONGMONT — While Deb Baumgartner shows a patient how to use his television remote, her husband, Hoagy, sorts papers for patient packets nearby.
Afterward, Deb Baumgartner runs to the refrigerator to get her patient a soda. Then she checks the pneumatic tube for paperwork sent from another part of the hospital. Next she checks the patient schedule to see who will be coming in next.
On busy days, the two are both running to other parts of the hospital, delivering patients for laboratory tests or X-rays.
“We put some miles on sometimes,” said Deb Baumgartner, 54.
This year, Longmont United Hospital celebrates 50 years of volunteering. The program has grown from 36 volunteers in 1956 to 700 volunteers today, with more than 200,000 volunteer hours worked in 2005. Volunteers range in age from 14 to 96 years old; the oldest volunteer knits caps for newborns.
“These people are here because they want to be,” said Betty Trueblood- Smith, manager for the hospital’s volunteer services for 30 years. “They come here filled with energy, wanting to make a difference.”
Trueblood-Smith said there are many reasons for the growth in hospital volunteerism. Longmont’s population has increased tremendously, and many residents want to volunteer in a hospital setting, she said.
Children like to volunteer partly because they can receive volunteer hours for their school honor programs. And many volunteers want to meet new people and develop friendships.
The Baumgartners, who retired seven years ago, have volunteered the same number of years in the hospital’s day surgery area one day a week.
They do the things the hospital staff is too busy to do: get snacks for patients, stock shelves, collate patient packets, make beds, take patients to the laboratory for blood work and keep them company during recovery.
“They mean the world to us,” said Jackie Nagell, a nurse who works in day surgery. “They give us time to take care of the patients.”
LUH volunteers work in many areas of the hospital. They greet visitors at the main information desk and help visitors choose gifts in the gift shop. They also work as messengers and in the pharmacy.
“I just like to help people, when it comes down to it, whether it is the patients or the staff,” said Hoagy Baumgartner, 56.
Every Friday morning, Willie Weibert works in the gift shop, helping visitors choose gifts for their friends and family. She takes orders for flowers and rings up all sales.
“We usually deal with very happy people,” said Weibert, 76, who used to work in a bank. “I love it.”
Nearby, two women direct visitors to patient rooms or escort them to different part of the hospital. They also deliver newspapers and flowers to patients. But they say every day is something new. For instance, they have rushed pregnant women to delivery several times, unsure whether they would make it in time.
“We would pay them to let us come here,” said Lois Kuehn, 78, who has worked at the front desk for six years. “It’s never boring.”
Those interested in volunteering should call Longmont United Hospital’s Volunteer Office at 303-651-5205.
Susan Glairon can be reached at 303-684-5224 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.