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Our Volunteers Make a Difference Every Day

July 1, 2018
Volunteers are at the heart of what we do at Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH). Here are experiences from two of our volunteer unit leaders who make a difference in the lives of the hospital’s patients and staff.

When Deborah Konig became an AVH volunteer about three years ago, she was drawn to Sally’s Gift Shop. “I was in retail for part of my professional life, so this was a natural fit for me,” said Konig, who is now Unit Leader of the shop’s volunteers.

True to form, she goes out of her way to help visitors select gifts for patients. Occasionally, she also receives phone calls from people who are out of town and want to send a gift. In those situations, she will take photos of several items — the shop has an array of cards, balloons, toys, books, candles, seasonal items and more — that might be appropriate. Then, she will send the photos to the customer, handle the sale remotely Quick read more or view full article and make sure the purchased items are delivered to the patient’s room.

“What I like about volunteering in the gift shop is that you’re helping out and putting a smile on someone’s face,” Konig said. “Plus, it’s a pretty easy job; the only qualifications are that you be kind and cheerful.”

‘It’s a good feeling’
Kindness and cheerfulness are also required for the good work done by volunteers in AVH’s Emergency Department. The environment there, according to Unit Leader Linda Waag, is greatly varied and often fast-paced.

“You get a little bit of everything, and it’s never boring,” Waag said. “Some days when I get home, I’m just flat-out tired. But I know that I’ve done a good day’s work of helping out, that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life and done something worthwhile. It’s a good feeling.”

That may explain why Linda has been a volunteer in the Emergency Department for 20 years. When she started, volunteers were more directly involved with patient care: helping to lift patients off gurneys, cutting boots off injured skiers and assisting with suturing. While that has changed, volunteers still have plenty to do.

“We bring a lot of comfort and love to our patients,” Waag said. “Some of our patients are frightened or don’t have a friend or family member with them. Volunteers can sit and reassure them in a way that our doctors and nurses may not have time to do. That warm blanket and smiling face can be very comforting.”

AVH is currently seeking volunteers for the gift shop and important clinical areas such as the Emergency Department and Same Day Surgery. To learn about these and other exciting volunteer opportunities, please call 970.544.1296 or visit aspenhospital.org/volunteer to download a volunteer application. Read Less
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Whitcomb Terrace:

July 1, 2018
Assisted living -- with emphasis on living!

The request, when she first heard it, struck Maggie Gerardi as both unusual and wonderful. As director of Whitcomb Terrace Assisted Living, Gerardi was accustomed to acting on requests from residents interested in visiting local art galleries, restaurants, shops and events.

In this instance, though, a resident wanted something out of the ordinary. “He used to be a snowmobile enthusiast, and he really wanted to go out on a snowmobile again,” Gerardi said. “It was important to him, so we and the staff at T-Lazy-7 Ranch made it happen, and he had a great time.”

Such personal touches are a hallmark of Whitcomb Terrace, which opened in 1990 as Aspen’s first assisted living facility. Over nearly three decades, Whitcomb Terrace has maintained its mission of encouraging residents to live as actively and independently as possible and to provide opportunities and resources to help them do so.

Staff members plan outings to sites, shops and Quick read more or view full article events. Residents’ loved ones are always welcome to visit and share a delicious meal in the dining room. Most importantly, volunteers from the community bring in educational programs, music, arts and crafts often, while area businesses offer services and programs to support residents’ health and happiness. For instance, Aspen Music Festival graciously donates tickets to concerts throughout the summer, a highlight for the residents and the volunteers who accompany them.

“We are really blessed with a community that cares so much, as our volunteers and local businesses prove time after time,” Gerardi said.

Helping residents stay involved
Residents can also be proactively involved in the community. For example, one resident attends classes at a local college — and another teaches college classes. In addition, the Pitkin County Senior Center is located in the same building as Whitcomb Terrace, giving residents easy access to those programs. With so much to do, many residents report feeling more socially engaged and having a greater sense of community after moving to Whitcomb Terrace.

There are other benefits, as well. At Whitcomb Terrace, assisted living includes employees taking care of residents’ housekeeping and managing medications. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served every day. There’s even a medical director, Joshua Seymour, MD, who makes “house calls” and staff who continually oversee residents.

“Most of our staff have been with us for years, so they have longterm, caring relationships with our residents,” Gerardi said. “That’s not what most people expect of assisted living; they expect it to be impersonal and institutional, which could not be further from the truth at Whitcomb Terrace. We strive to keep our residents independent, engaged and happy — even if that involves a ride on a snowmobile.”

To find out more about Whitcomb Terrace, call 970.544.1530 or email mgerardi@aspenhospital.org Read Less
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