Henry Mayo volunteer Lifts Spirits and Eases Loneliness
Imagine that you’re a patient at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. You’ve just had some tests done, and the doctor has just told you that you’re going to be here for awhile. It’s noontime. Friends and family do come to visit, but they can only come at certain times for a short visit. They can’t stay all day. Nurses and doctors come in and out of the room, but mainly to give you medicine and check your vitals. No one really has any time to talk because everyone is so busy. What happens when your friends and family leave? You’ve got a long day in the hospital.
You could sleep, but what if you’re not tired and need some stimulation? You could watch television, but television can get boring after awhile. The hospital offers Internet access, but what if you’re not a huge computer person? What else is left to do besides lay in bed and stare at the walls?
That’s where I come in. My name is Rachael Benson. I’m a patient visitations volunteer at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. I make rounds throughout the hospital to visit patients. I’m the one who comes into the room and says, “Hi, would you like a magazine?”
Even when patients don’t take a magazine, many appreciate the fact that someone besides their family members came to visit. I’m a good listener; if they feel like making conversation, I will gladly stay awhile to talk with them. Patients often say to me, “Thanks for coming by.”
When people see me, they are often surprised that I’m a volunteer. I’ve seen some patients in tears when I hand them a magazine because they can’t believe that someone like me could or would want to set aside time to help others in need. That’s because I have cerebral palsy, and I’m in a wheelchair. Why am I volunteering when to many people it looks like I am the one who needs the help? How is that even possible? It’s not only the patients who feel good as a result of my volunteer service.
I remember one patient in particular who goes by the name of “cowboy.” One day when I was driving home in my wheelchair, he literally stopped his car in the middle of the street on McBean Parkway to say “thank you” for the magazine. Then, on another day, I saw him again just outside Henry Mayo’s Pavilion. He said, “Thank you for the magazine. I really appreciate what you did for me.”
People love the service—especially when I tell them that the magazines are free. One time when I said that, a patient replied, “What a delight.”
It feels good to know that I’m helping to bring smiles to patients just by performing a simple gesture when they may be going through a rough time in their life. I love the fact that people see me, they often realize that if I’m at the hospital volunteering, even with my disability, then they can overcome their burdens. I hope to keep volunteering for a long while because in addition to the magazines I deliver, I also bring inspiration and cheer.
The free magazine service provided by Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital’s volunteer department is dependent on magazine donations from the community. If you have any unused magazines at home that you would like to donate to the hospital, please deliver them to the information desk in the hospital’s main lobby.