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  • Writer's pictureJennifer

Next Chapter

Updated: May 24

Downsizing is never fun for anyone. 

Community hospitals are tight-knit places with people staying in positions for years. Long-term professional friendships are built around an intimate regard for patient care. The people seen at community hospitals are your neighbors, possibly a teacher of your child, or maybe a co-worker from long ago. And yet, community hospitals are still in a dire recovery process from COVID and are being forced to make tough decisions on where to cut costs while continuing to support their communities with necessary care. Unfortunately, May 15th was the last day for my position as Manager of Volunteers Services and Screeners with Anna Jaques Hospital. 

I took my position with Anna Jaques because I wanted to give back. We were all saddened by what our healthcare professionals had endured through the pandemic and I wanted to support those who had supported all of us!

Volunteer services had been suspended during COVID at Anna Jaques, as with many volunteer programs across industries. Volunteers were not essential workers. When I took over the program almost two years ago, we were in the rebuilding process. Volunteers for the front screener desk had been replaced with paid employees due to the complexities and thoroughness needed as people came in and out of the hospital. I managed multiple shifts for this team from 6:00 AM - 8 PM. And that group not only contributed to the hospital's best practices in patient care, but they did it with smiles...lots of smiles.

Various other areas of the hospital where volunteers served were ramping back up. The AJH Gift Shop was open once again, and help was needed in transportation and on the units to support the nursing staff. Students were requesting internships, job shadowing came back, and having our pet therapy program revived brought joy to both staff and patients.

Through this rebuilding, I got to know some pretty amazing people dedicated to serving Anna Jaques Hospital. Whether the 90-year-old transport volunteer and his partner (they were known as the "dynamic duo") or the medical records volunteer with over 15,000 hours throughout her tenure, each cared deeply for their community hospital. On average with our 150+ active volunteers they contributed over 11,000 hours of services annually. I am most proud of my work acknowledging their commitment to the hospital by bringing back the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner after a three-year hiatus and conceiving of the Anna Jaques Services Award.

Another area that became quite dear to me was my collaborative efforts with our local high schools and our robust internship program for seniors interested in pursuing a career/education in healthcare. Students rotated through assigned units across the hospital's areas of patient care for 8 to 10 weeks, 5 hours a day, Monday through Friday. They then delivered their learnings with a culminating co-op thesis presentation to their schools and fellow interns.

What does the next chapter look like? I am certain it will build upon my already established career in community engagement and the personally and professionally rewarding experience I had with Anna Jaques Hospital. In the meantime, you can find me with my fellow crazy cold water dippers in the Atlantic off of Marblehead, MA, starting the day with a swim and then on to my search for what's to come. Feel free to reach out with opportunities, even those outside the proverbial box. I'd love to connect! 

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