Brockville – Marc Dennis pulls on his pink smock, adjusts his collar, and heads up to the fifth floor of Brockville General Hospital’s (BGH) Garden Street Site. Once there, Marc smiles to all the nurses as he checks in on his first patient of the day.
This has been Marc’s Friday morning routine for the last four years. Marc starts his shift at 8 a.m. every Friday, helping the patients in the Palliative Care program in any way he can.
“There is always someone who could use a helping hand,” said Marc as he unloaded the patient’s morning meals off the delivery tray. “So I help by getting the patients their breakfast.”
Marc visits his first patient of the day. He gently wakes the man up, and helps him into a seated position. For the next 45 minutes, Marc helps him to eat his breakfast, all the while speaking to the man on every subject from the weather to the latest goings-ons in the news.
Marc is just one of over 60 Palliative Care volunteers working with BGH’s Palliative Care team. They work alongside a team of specialists to deliver compassionate care for patients and their families. Volunteers work in a number of capacities, including in-hospital as well as out in the community in patients’ homes, in local retirement homes, and in Long-Term Care services.
Marc’s passion for helping those in Palliative Care was inspired by his father’s healthcare journey.
“My father was admitted to Palliative Care near the end of his life,” said Marc. “The care he received was wonderful and everyone was so kind to him and to our entire family. While he received care at a different hospital, I knew I wanted to help in my community which is why I became a BGH volunteer.”
The path to become a Palliative Care volunteer starts with their training.
“It all starts with the initial interview,” explained Leslie Leeder, Coordinator of Community Volunteers at BGH. “In that first meeting we go over what is involved in being a Palliative Care volunteer. If the interview goes well, and the applicant passes all the usual background checks then comes the training course.”
Like all volunteers, Palliative Care volunteers must pass a 30-hour provincially recognized training course which covers everything the volunteers need to know when working in a hospital environment. This course prepares the volunteers for a variety of situations, since many of the volunteers don’t have a medical background.
“They really teach you to be observant,” reflected Marc. “You have to be watching the patient in case of choking or something like that. I also think it helps us to recognize when the nurses may need an extra set of hands.”
An extra set of hands was just what was needed as Marc visited the next Palliative Care patient, a woman named Alice. Alice needed help to lay back in bed as she waited to be discharged from the hospital. She is very excited to go home again. Her beaming smile grew as Marc sat with her and the two shared their love of the natural beauty of the Prescott region.
“I do truly enjoy getting to know the people here,” explained Marc as he makes his way to the next patient. “My conversations with them are what I live for.”
“Our Palliative Care volunteers are an intricate part of the Palliative Care team,” said Travis Wing, Manager of Complex Care, Palliative Care, and Nursing Resource Team at BGH. “They help provide needed assistance to our Palliative Care team and provide compassionate care to all our Palliative Care patients. We are all very appreciative of the hard-work the volunteers do.”
Just as BGH’s Palliative Care team relies on volunteers, the program relies heavily on the generous donations of our community. In support the Hospital’s Palliative Care program, the 36th Annual 30-Hour Telethon will be raising funds this weekend beginning Saturday, February 23. The 30-Hour Telethon has raised over $3.75 million over the last 35 years, all of which supports our Palliative Care program. To donate during the telethon, please call 613-865-7200.