Today was a very significant day for me! After a couple weeks of finalizing my health screening and availability, I was able to be scheduled for my first volunteer shift! My shift in the PACU was set for 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (shifts are usually 3 hours) I could not have been more anxious and excited to finally begin. I woke up at 9:00 a.m. to get ready and caught the “147″ in perfect time as I crossed the street. Things were already working in my favor today!
However, on the bus ride downtown, several thoughts pondered in mind. “Would I be able to emotionally handle being in such a familiar atmosphere?” “Would the nurses trust me to help?” “What about the families?” I arrived at the hospital around 10:00, it was game time! A few confident mental pep talks and I knew everything would go smoothly. I went up to the 11th floor where the volunteer services are located, I put away my belongings in the locker room and headed to meet with my supervisor.
In the meantime, I received my name tag and oh so stylish blue vest (as shown above). The name tag is especially important because it has a little scanner card attached that allows for access to patient transport elevators and authorized personal only areas, basically areas behind the scenes. (Pretty neat!) Now I was definitely official! I met with my PACU volunteer supervisor Mary Jo who is also a nurse in PACU and she began to show me the ropes.
We arrived at the seventh floor and the tour of what seemed like a maize of endless white hallways began from there. The PACU is spread over two floors, the sixth and seventh. The PACU area on the sixth floor is designated more so for general type procedures (tonsils, ear tubes,etc.) while the seventh floor receives patients with more complicated cases. I was to float between the two floors wherever desired help or had more incoming patients at the time.
Mary Jo is pretty much a pro so there was a whirlwind of information I was taking in. She showed me everything from the blanket heater machine, a utility room containing anything a patient may need or want (pacifiers, an ice/water machine, diapers, IV mobilizer pads, you get the idea!), a nourishment closest with all sorts of snacks and drinks, and where to find the bed/crib pads for restless patients coming out of the anesthesia.
After we covered all the bases, it was time for patient care! There were a few plasma TVs attached to the wall which allowed us to see which patients were undergoing a procedure, coming out, or how many were on each floor. Usually a surgical nurse and the anesthesiologist would roll the patient’s bed onto our floor into one of the recovery units designated with a letter. The anesthesiologist or nurse would give the patient’s report and then one of the PACU nurses would take over the patient’s care. I even got to be bedside and hear the reports.
Now you may be wondering, what can/does a volunteer (myself) do? Well, I basically act as a runner for the nurses. By their orders, I might bring the patient a drink or snack, heated blanket, etc. But the coolest thing I get to do, is take the patients’ temperatures. After they roll the patient into their unit I get to come over and use this handy electronic thermometer and slide it across the patient’s forehead down to just under his/her ear. By the time I become a doctor I will be a professional temperature taker if anything. (haha!) I also got to help transport a few overnight and extended care patients from the PACU up to the 15th, 19th, and 20th designated speciality inpatient floors.
My first day on the job has been exciting to say the least! I already feel like a part of something so special and cannot wait to see what else this journey has in store for me!
I feel this song is appropriate for my role in the patients’ lives!
“Hold onto me as we go, as we roll down this unfamiliar road.”
“Just know you’re not alone, I’m gonna make this place your home.”