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Echuca Regional Health staff feel the absence of volunteers

By Brayden May

STAFF at Echuca Regional Health have a simple message for their team of volunteers - "we miss you".

Volunteers haven't been able to fulfil their usual roles a the hospital in recent weeks due to restrictions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

And ERH volunteer co-ordinator Shari Butcher said their absence was being felt.

“We have 120 wonderful volunteers who contribute to various areas of our health service,” Shari said.

“From the emergency department, to our wards, Glanville Village, our gift shop and concierge volunteers and those who provide fundraising and admin support, we are lucky to have such a vibrant and passionate volunteer group who provide such great support to our staff, patients, residents and families.

“In 2019, our volunteers contributed just shy of 10,000 hours of volunteering to our health service across all these areas, and with this year’s National Volunteer Week theme being “Changing Communities, Changing Lives” – our volunteers certainly do that.

“Our volunteer programs have been put on hold since March due to COVID-19, and while this has been done for the safety of our volunteers, we surely are missing them around the place.”

Despite limits on what ERH can do to honour their volunteers, Shari said they've been staying in touch.

“We have been keeping regular contact with the volunteers via email and a weekly Zoom catch-up which is a very new concept for many,” she said.

“But it has been great to see them engaged with this new means of technology – many have been joining who have never used these programs before, so it has been fantastic.

“While we cannot celebrate this year like we usually would, we are hosting a virtual morning tea for our volunteers this Friday, joined by our executive team and some of the staff managing areas our volunteers provide support to.

“It will be a nice chance for our staff to say thank you, and to give the volunteers an update from the health service.

“We are also encouraging our community to join us in thanking volunteers not just at ERH, but within our community and around Australia, but waving a smile and sending to us to collate into a video to share with the volunteers.

“Find out more on our Echuca Regional Health Facebook Page.”

Anyone people who may be interested in volunteering with ERH, can contact the hospital via [email protected] or visit www.erh.org.au/volunteers

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