Meet an Inspiring Palomar Health Volunteer


In celebration of National Volunteer Week, we are highlighting a devoted volunteer who has served Palomar Health patients and staff for more than 30 years.

Susan Westlake of Escondido, who turns 80 this August, dedicates a number of hours each week to Palomar Health, as she helps create a meaningful experience for patients through her generosity and positive spirit.
“Volunteering was something I always wanted to do, and I had the time,” she says, remembering back to her start at the medical center decades ago. “Throughout these years, I have loved making new friends and feeling able to help nurses ease their load.”

When Westlake began volunteering back in 1989, she pushed around a coffee cart for visitors, providing them fresh caffeine for long, tiring hospital visits. After this service ended, she helped move patients to their different required services, such as taking them to get x-rays. She also served as president of the Palomar Health Auxiliary for two years, back when Palomar Health volunteers assisted with community outreach, philanthropic causes and the non-clinical needs of patients.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Westlake volunteered in the Palomar Medical Center Escondido lobby every Wednesday afternoon, and hopes to return soon when hospital restrictions lift. “I love working there and greeting lobby guests,” she says. “I feel able to help incoming patients relax a little bit and make visitors feel comfortable. Everybody’s so nice.”

While the hospital remains under stringent visitor guidelines, Westlake spends her time at the COVID-19 Resource Clinic at the former downtown Escondido hospital. She performs administrative services, such as checking people in and out and serving lunch to the numerous volunteers. In addition, she visits the information technology building in Escondido to complete other needed projects, such as creating kits for blood draws, folding patient bags and making sanitary wipes.

Westlake believes that volunteering is a way to give back to the community, provides an opportunity to meet new people and allows you to feel helpful all at once.

If you feel inspired by Westlake’s story, you can sign up to volunteer at one or more of the Palomar Health facilities. Although opportunities remain limited during the pandemic, more assignments will open again in the near future. These include roles in the birthing centers, surgical waiting rooms, lobby desks and gift shops. Palomar Health staff can assist you with finding suitable areas and roles based on your skills, preferences, location, and experience and hours needed for healthcare college applications and courses.

If you’re interested in volunteering at Palomar Health, you can sign up at

Photo Caption: Susan Westlake spends a number of hours per week volunteering at the Palomar Health COVID-19 Resource Clinic in Escondido.


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