Near death experience inspires more than six years of volunteering
21 November 2022
Pictured: Meet and Greet volunteer Jenny Clarke wears her mask as one of a number of health measures encouraged in Taranaki hospitals, to protect herself, her colleagues, and the hospitals’ patients.
Jenny Clarke is a familiar face at Taranaki Base Hospital, having been a Meet and Greet volunteer for just over six years. Jenny decided to become a volunteer after experiencing a health emergency, where the staff in the Emergency Department saved her life.
She says, “It was an incredibly scary time for myself and my family, and the staff were just fantastic. I really wanted to give back to them after everything they did for me, so I thought what better way than to give my time supporting the staff and patients here at the hospital?”
Navigating the numerous buildings, corridors, wards and departments can be tricky. Luckily for our visitors, these volunteers know the hospital like the back of their hand.
Jenny is one of eight volunteers who very generously give their time to help patients and visitors find their way around Taranaki Base Hospital to appointments and to visit friends and whānau in the wards.
Jenny loves being able to help patients and visitors who can sometimes be stressed or frightened upon arrival.
“We are the smiling faces that greet people at the main entrances and help them get where they need to go. We sometimes take people to the relevant department ourselves and provide wheelchairs for those who need it.
“It’s often on these journeys that people confide in us and we’re able to help reduce their stress levels or just be a listening ear. It really makes me happy to see them relax a bit on this journey and know that I’ve been part of helping make someone feel better,” Jenny adds.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions over the last few years, the Meet and Greet service has been intermittent, but they are now back helping patients every weekday.
Like the rest of the community, the Meet and Greet volunteers are seeing the impacts of COVID-19 and the need to protect patients and staff.
“We encourage anyone that needs to visit Taranaki Base or Hāwera hospitals to stay home if they are unwell,” Jenny says. “Patients have access to free PRIMO Wi-Fi so stay at home and connect with your loved ones in hospital via technology if you can,” she adds.
Got an appointment but you’re feeling unwell? That’s no problem either; call to reschedule for when you’re feeling better.
All visitors are also encouraged to sanitise their hands and wear a face mask when in Te Whatu Ora – Taranaki buildings.
Jenny says, “There are hand sanitiser stations placed in public spaces throughout the hospitals and face masks are available at every main entrance, so there’s no need to worry if you’ve forgotten one.”
COVID-19 continues to impact the health and wellbeing of the Taranaki community, so people are strongly encouraged to keep up the recommended public health measures to protect themselves and each other.
These include being fully vaccinated for COVID-19; staying home and getting tested if they are unwell; wearing a mask when in crowded indoor spaces, and continuing to practice regular handwashing, cough etiquette, and physical distancing. These tools will reduce transmission of COVID-19 and other highly transmissible illnesses.
Gill Campbell, Te Whatu Ora – Taranaki interim district director says, “These very giving people have an incredibly positive impact on our hospitals’ patient and visitor experience. We’re very lucky to have people giving back to our community in such an important way.”
Next time you see one of our volunteers, be sure to say hi and thank them for the invaluable support they provide here at Te Whatu Ora - Taranaki. And if you or someone you know would like to become a volunteer at Te Whatu Ora - Taranaki, visit www.tdhb.org.nz/careers/volunteers.shtml for more information.
Last updated: Monday, November 21, 2022