• BY PAUL SISSON firstname.lastname@example.org
Palomar Health estimates it will need about 200 more volunteers when it opens its new west Escondido hospital in August.
The 740,000-foot-structure has a need for about 300 volunteers total, but some will move over from Palomar Medical Center downtown, said volunteer coordinator Norma Stern.
She said she hopes North County residents with a little time to spare will begin signing up with Palomar's volunteer department so that there are plenty of smiling faces in blue and white uniforms on hand when the massive new Palomar West Medical Center opens Aug. 19.
Pat Goepfert, who has been volunteering at the downtown hospital for six years, said there are forms of compensation for unpaid volunteers.
"The camaraderie here is great," said Goepfert, grinning at Stern during an interview on the hospital's fourth floor.
"Pat's my sister from a different mother," Stern said.
A solid corps of volunteers is essential for any modern hospital, said Steve Gold, Palomar's chief officer for senior care and support services.
They perform several duties, including staffing the front desk, directing visitors to patients' rooms, and making sure incoming calls are transferred to patients.
Volunteers also deliver magazines, flowers and smiles to patients room-by-room and they're out in the parking lot ferrying patients from distant spots to the front door.
"They bring in the warmth of the community," said Gold.
The downtown hospital has about 225 volunteers. Many of them will need to remain there when the new facility opens because several departments, including labor and delivery, pediatrics and rehabilitation, will not move.
Because it is larger that the downtown hospital, the new facility will need more volunteers. Stern said that many new volunteers will be needed just to help patients find their way to different departments and patient wings. She said greeters will be present in the lobby and on every floor to serve as guides.
Volunteers receive extensive training, and health care experience is not required. More information is available on the Palomar Health website at www.pph.org/volunteer or by calling the volunteers office at (760) 739-3081 or (858) 613-4659
Read the entire story and view photo of volunteers in the North County Times.