John Melfa, center, receives the Clara Field Volunteer Award of Excellence from Volunteer Services coordinator Louise Shivers and Monmouth Medical Center executive director Frank J. Vozos, M.D., FACS.
Long Branch, N.J. — Sparkling silver balloons tied to centerpieces of assorted giftware set the mood for Monmouth Medical Center’s 47th Annual Adult Volunteer Awards Dinner, with more than 100 volunteers gathering in the SeaBreeze Café to celebrate an evening set aside for them.
“National Volunteer Week is the time we set aside to show how much we appreciate the role our volunteers play on the health care team,” said Louise Shivers, coordinator of the Volunteer Services Department. “Together we all make Monmouth Medical Center a better place, and that’s what being part of a team is about; everyone doing their part to make the hospital a success. This year’s theme is ‘Volunteers: Touching Lives…Lifting Spirits’ and that is exactly what they do.”
Considered ambassadors for the medical center, volunteers play an important role in many areas throughout Monmouth Medical Center — from assisting hospitalized patients or those receiving care in the Emergency Department or outpatient areas to providing office support in such areas as computer services, business administration and medical records, among others.
Frank J. Vozos, M.D., FACS, executive director of Monmouth Medical Center, said that volunteers are instrumental in carrying out the hospital mission, noting that the 373 adults who comprise the volunteer corps are involved in nearly every aspect of patient care and the operation of the hospital.
“Our volunteers spend time in more than 75 different departments within the hospital, donating almost 33,000 hours of service last year,” he said. “Without our volunteers, Monmouth Medical Center would not be the success that it is.”
The National Volunteer Week event featured the presentation of the 2011 Clara Field Volunteer Award of Excellence to Total Joint Program volunteer John Melfa.
The Toms River resident — who underwent two total knee replacements at Monmouth, describes his experience with the hospital’s Total Joint Program as excellent. In fact the experience was so transforming that just two-and-a-half months after his second surgery, he began volunteering on the orthopedic unit talking to and encouraging patients.
“It’s quite amazing to see their expressions when I tell them that I had the surgery and now am able to walk all over the hospital,” he says.
Dana Delatush, who leads Monmouth’s Total Joint Program along with fellow joint and spine clinical coordinator Jaclyn Conway, says Melfa’s efforts were so well received by the patients, their families and the hospital staff that he was invited to take part in a weekly pre-operative informational class. The class is designed to teach patients what to expect when they come in for hip or knee replacement surgery, and to help decrease the anxiety of those who are planning total joint replacement surgery.
“John has become an integral part of our program,” she says.
"I met Dana when my wife and I came in for my first knee replacement pre-op class, and I had such a great experience that when I came back for my second surgery, I asked her about volunteering to talk to patients about what to expect with a knee or hip replacement," Melfa says. "The class was wonderful — it really helped me so much."
Delatush notes that Melfa has brought his own innovative ideas to the unit, including bringing in walkie-talkies that keep him in contact with the nurses' station, and make himself available to help with whatever they need. She says she often consults with him when implementing new ideas.
“I welcome his viewpoint — especially since he has experienced the program firsthand,” she says.
Melfa notes that you do not have to have a medical background to be a hospital volunteer. "I worked in sales my entire career, and I know how to talk to people," he says. To encourage patients, he shares his own experiences.
Volunteer Services coordinator Louise Shivers gathers at the 2011 Volunteer Services Awards’ program at Monmouth Medical Center, with, from left, John Melfa of Toms River, Ann Puerling of Little Silver, and Englishtown resident Jeanne Johnson.
In addition to Melfa, Jeanne Johnson from Englishtown received the Congenial Volunteer Award for her compassion and upbeat attitude with the inpatient oncology patients. Ann Puerling of Little Silver received the Professionalism Volunteer Award for the dedicated and tireless volunteering she does with the Children's Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center's Child Life Team.
Groups of volunteers recognized included the Pastoral Care Volunteers “who are extremely important because they take care of the spiritual part of the healing process,” according to Shivers. Forty-eight other volunteers were honored with longevity awards and the members of the 500-Hour Club were recognized for donating at least 500 volunteer hours during 2010.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Monmouth, visit www.barnabashealth.org or call 732-923-6670.
April 19, 2011
CONTACT: Carrie Cristello
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