Making a daily difference: QEII ambassador volunteer program celebrates 10 years of helping patients, families and visitors

Hospitality volunteer George McKelvie.
George McKelvie, hospitality volunteer at the VG site of the QEII for 10 years (NSHA).

Volunteer services coordinator Gordon Spurrell remembers walking the halls and seeing patients come in the front door looking lost. That was more than a decade ago.

Soon after, that moment inspired him to say at a staff meeting, “wouldn’t it be nice if we had a program where volunteers would meet patients and families at the entrance and take them where they need to go?” 

That was the first seed of the QEII ambassador volunteer program, which marked its 10th anniversary this year.

Noreen Jackson was a patient visitor volunteer at Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Building in early 2008 when Spurrell explained the premise of the program. Her immediate response was, “I can do that!” 

Every Monday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jackson helps individuals at the Halifax Infirmary, Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Building and the Abbie J. Lane Building find their way.
 
“Each week is different,” said Jackson. “Individuals are very appreciative of my assistance in helping them locate their clinic space or inpatient floor. I often feel like I’ve made a difference at the end of my shift.”

George McKelvie has been a hospitality volunteer at the VG site of the QEII for 10 years, having volunteered in palliative care for many years before that. 

“Many people find the layout of the buildings challenging, so it is nice to be able to provide information to them to help them navigate while they are on site,” said McKelvie.

Many of the individuals he helps weekly need assistance to get to the Eye Care Centre. After they have registered for their appointment, he’s able to escort them to the centre; he feels good about providing this service. 

He also provides help to those individuals who need a wheelchair in order to get to their clinic appointments throughout the VG site.

The organization has heard from many patients and families over the years about the impact of ambassador volunteers, Spurrell said. 

He recalls one story of a man who was driving in from out of town to an appointment and faced terrible traffic, then circled the parking lot looking for a spot. By the time he came through the front doors of the hospital, he was late for his appointment. He was greeted by a friendly volunteer who reassured him and helped him to his appointment. 

“What a difference that made in that man’s life that day,” said Spurrell.

Jackson and McKelvie are in good company, with many volunteers working in hospitality roles throughout the province. 

Thank you to this special group of volunteers for making such a difference to the experience of our patients, families and visitors!

Are you interested in becoming a volunteer at an NSHA facility near you? Please contact us to explore opportunities in your area.