Letter: Volunteering at KGH not what it used to be

Turnover of volunteers approaches 90 per cent and the organization as I knew it has all but disappeared.

To the editor:

I don’t believe I’m exaggerating when I say that Kelowna General Hospital and its staff is one of the top facilities in all of North America. I remember about 18 years ago KGH had what was recognized as one of  the best, if not the best volunteer organizations in Kelowna and perhaps further afield. It was then that I joined the KGH Volunteer Team.

I was proud to be accepted by a first class organization, with first class training, supervision, and one where I felt truly appreciated. A dress code separated the volunteers from other staff and the general public. Regular meetings were held to keep everyone up to date and cognizant of changes in  treatment areas, rules, and regulations, etc. The volunteer department was run in a very professional manner.

I was told at that time, approximately 1,500 names were on the KGH list of volunteers and approximately another 1,000 in community care centres in Kelowna, West Kelowna and areas.

I don’t know what the numbers are today, but I do know the the volunteer organization of KGH today has dropped significantly. Hypocrisy abounds. Turnover of volunteers approaches 90 per cent and the organization as I knew it has all but disappeared. Once a year, volunteers are ‘honoured’ at a tea and recognition given to those with a number of years experience.

The rest of the time, appreciation is received from staff, patients and the public. Sadly, the appreciation ends there as volunteer supervisors treat the volunteers almost as ‘low life.’ That is not an exaggeration and can be attested to by many current volunteers.

It seems the administration look to education and perhaps degrees, ignoring completely people skills to obtain volunteer supervisors. A severe case of trying to put square pegs in round holes. Numerous volunteers with as many as 25 years and more have terminated because of the above. Honesty among the volunteer supervisors is a lost attribute.

Jeff Johnson, Kelowna