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Fresh Air Magazine

A Heart To Help

New program gives volunteers a place to share their time

When Betty Mullins heard about the opportunity to volunteer at Rockcastle Regional, she knew it was for her.

Betty, who was a nurse on the respiratory care unit for many years before retiring, was the perfect person to help with the unit's youngest patients. Now she comes in one day a week to provide extra cuddling and play time with some of the unit's 11 babies.

"It's where my heart is," she said. "I just thought it was something I could do, a way I could contribute."

Betty's husband passed away earlier in the year, and helping with the babies is also one way she copes with her loss. "I help them, but they are a help to me, too."

Rockcastle Regional established its volunteer program in February of 2018. The need was first identified through its cancer care program, but expanding the program to cover the Respiratory Care Center was in the plan from the beginning. Most of the ventilator unit volunteers focus on spending quality time with patients, providing them social and spiritual support.

"It's part of the Respiratory Care Center's mission -- to treat the patient as a whole," said Anne Harris, volunteer coordinator.

"The goal of the volunteer program is to enhance our residents' quality of life by providing some extra one-on-one touches," Harris said. "Some of these touches may be through reading to patients, providing music or playing games, painting fingernails, or helping residents write letters/cards to their families."

Sylvia Jacobs visits with a number of patients weekly.

"They look forward to me coming," she said, "and that tells me I'm doing the right thing."

Other volunteers such as Betty Brown offer an extra set of hands for group activities, and Patricia Brabon comes to Bible study with residents. Some are volunteer chaplains who work with Luther Allen, facility chaplain, taking call when he is away.

"Our patients may be physically impaired," said Bro. Allen, "but that doesn't stop them from growing spiritually."

Respiratory Care Center

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