As a part of this year’s National Volunteer Week celebration, we will share stories about our wonderful volunteers and highlight their contributions to the local community.
Let’s get to know Ruth Jorgensen!
Tell me a bit about your background and what made you want to be a volunteer?
I had worked for Queensland Health for 19 years, retiring in 2008. Most of those years were spent at Ipswich Hospital, firstly as an administrative officer and then as a training officer with IT.
How long have you been with IHF? Any stories from back then you’d like to share?
When I was asked to be a volunteer at the inception of the hospital volunteering corps in 2010 I jumped at the chance. I loved the atmosphere of the hospital with its core values of service to the community. It was great to come back to that environment and feel a part of it again.
The original group of volunteers was a tight knit little team and initially we just manned the information desk on level 6. It was interesting to note how staff members reacted to us initially – firstly with a little suspicion maybe and then acceptance and now, with our roles having expanded to encompass many areas of the hospital, with some dependence and thankfulness.
We took a little time to work ourselves into our role but after a period we had to be careful that we didn’t think that we ran the hospital because we were often the first people visitors saw when they entered. Secretly I think we did think that the hospital would fall apart without us but we tried hard to stay humble (lol as they say on Facebook).
What is the best thing that happened to you whilst being a volunteer?
One of the best things about being a volunteer is the friendships we make and the feeling that we are giving back to the community, that we are a part of the hospital team and that we do make a difference.
Another wonderful aspect is the people we meet – the many types of people who walk through the door, the hero staff, the battling patients and the concerned visitors. Most people are appreciative of us and our role although I know that some volunteers have faced unhappy scenarios over the years. Fortunately, not many.
It is wonderful seeing patients coming in every week for post surgical treatment and watch them improving all the time. You get to know them and regular visitors and, of course, the staff and know that perhaps you are appreciated a little bit.
One of my close colleagues seems to be a magnet for labouring mothers. She knows who she is. But many times we had mothers on the verge of birth at the doorstep, in the lift, in their cars or just making it to the Birth Suite. She was a nurse and had the experience and skill to deal with these and other scary scenarios. I am so glad I was working with her at those times.
What motivates you to be successful in your volunteer role?
The satisfaction of helping people, of being able to sympathise and empathise with people of many walks of life and of feeling useful in retirement. Now my focus has changed to being a volunteer with the hospital museum and this work of helping to preserve the history of the hospital brings another aspect of using my skills into play.
What would be your advice to anyone considering to be a volunteer?
The IHF volunteer team provides many roles that people can slot into depending on their abilities, skills and experience but I think that you just have to want to help people and the community. The fact that you make wonderful friends and are appreciated as part of a large multi-functional team is an added bonus. Tolerance, patience and acceptance are important characteristics to have in the healthcare environment but just be aware that many unexpected events occur – both good and bad. It is an exciting environment and one that I have loved and enjoyed for many years.
What are you passionate about?
Wanting people to be tolerant of each other, no matter their background or story. Everyone is unique in their own way.
Acceptance of people as they are, respect for those who we think are different to us but who are probably struggling as we are to live a good life.
As volunteers in a health environment I think these are core values we should all hold high.