This ‘Q & A’ maps out all you need to know about the VolunTEEN program at Langley Memorial Hospital.

VolunTEENS help brighten patients’ days at Langley Memorial Hospital

Volunteering at hospital fulfilling for Langley teen Poonam Deol.

Support from the Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary has allowed Poonam Deol to combine two of her passions: healthcare and volunteerism.

The 19-year-old Langley resident and SFU Health Sciences student is part of the ‘VolunTEEN’ program that’s sponsored by the local auxiliary.

VolunTEENs are volunteers ages 19 and younger who provide service to LMH patients and families in four areas:

• Information Desk – escort visitors and answer inquires from patients, staff and family members;

• Unit visits – socializing with patients;

• Dining room host – offering socialization and support during meal time at the hospital; and

• Library rounds – offering reading materials on patient units.

It’s a relatively small commitment – oftentimes a single, two-hour shift per week, either evenings or weekends, with hours worked out to accommodate each VolunTEEN’s schedule.

The VolunTEEN program runs Monday to Saturday at the hospital, said Jude Henders, LMH’s volunteer resources coordinator.

“On those six days, there’s one team leader and usually five to six teens below them,” Henders said.

The program has been in place at LMH for roughly the past four years, noted Henders.

Ultimately, Deol wants to be a doctor, so, she says, what better place to volunteer than a hospital?

A keen ear during her Grade 11 school year at R.E. Mountain Secondary put the VolunTEEN program on Deol’s radar.

“There was an announcement one day, and I was looking for volunteer opportunities at the time,” Deol recounted. “The announcement said there was an opportunity… for volunteering at our local hospital. And I’ve always loved interacting with people in school clubs, and I loved making those one-on-one interactions, so I thought it would be a really good fit for me. I wanted to pursue something in healthcare so I thought it was perfect.”

There’s also an educational aspect for Deol and other VoluTEENs interested in the healthcare profession.

“We learn about the terminology, and it’s really nice to see the hands-on (work) being done when you come here,” Deol said. “It’s almost like applying your skills, almost.”

She’s been a VolunTEEN for going on three years and has graduated to the role of team leader.

“For the first half-an-hour (of my shift), I plan out shifts and go up to all the different floors to see if there are any specific patients that need any extra attention, or benefit from a conversation, or a stroll around the hospital,” she said. “Then, once everyone comes in, we basically assign the shifts.”

With library rounds, VolunTEENs offer books to patients to read.

“It’s a way to get their minds off things,” Deol said, about the patients. “If they can benefit from a book or just a conversation, we bring in our library carts to see if they want something to read, or maybe just to talk.”

Deol said the “No. 1 reason” why she loves volunteering at the hospital is the interaction she has with the patients, the majority of whom are seniors.

“If I could just make one person happy in a day, that means the world to me,” she said.

Teen applicants can apply online at www.fraserhealth.ca. Click ‘About Us, Get Involved, Volunteer’ and scroll down to Langley Memorial. Potential VolunTEENs will be directed to a link to apply online.

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