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Volunteers vital in helping hospital function
Photo caption: From left, Marthann and Richard Veldman have volunteered at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital for the past 20 years. Marthann works in the hospital’s surgical lounge, while Richard works as a transporter in the hospital’s Day Surgery unit.

La Grange – Long-time volunteers Richard and Marthann Veldman are not medical professionals, but in their own ways, they work as healers for the patients and families visiting Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.

Marthann works in the hospital’s surgical lounge, where families await word about their loved ones following procedures. People are often nervous while they wait, so Marthann does what she can to comfort the families and alleviate their concerns.

“There was a lady, her mother was going to have shoulder surgery, and I told her, ‘I had that done,’” Marthann said. “It just so happened that we had the same doctors, and I told her what a great doctor I’d had. She felt so much better after that.”

Richard works as a transporter in the hospital’s Day Surgery unit. He also spends one day a week helping out in Pain Management. In the brief time he spends with patients, wheeling them from one area of the hospital to another, Richard can learn just about all there is to know about someone, becoming another person patients can rely on while being treated.

“I talk with the patients and kid around with them,” the Western Springs resident said. “If they’re shivering, I get them a blanket. And I’ll help out the nurses if they need it.”

Volunteers like the Veldmans are essential to the operation of the hospital, said Leonore Lewis, coordinator of Volunteer Services with Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. Volunteers staff areas such as the reception desk, surgical lounge and gift shop.

“Rich and Marthann, as well as so many of our other volunteers, are ready to step in at a moment’s notice to help us out whenever we need them,” Lewis said. “We can always use more volunteers like them, people with great customer service skills who can think quickly and can follow through on some of the more physically demanding jobs our volunteers are asked to do.”

As the hospital joins other community organizations this April to honor their volunteers during National Volunteer Month, it would like to extend an invitation to other potential adult volunteers to sign up to help at the hospital. Those interested in volunteering can contact Lewis at (708) 245-8103.

The Veldmans are glad to offer their time to assist. They have volunteered at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital for the past 20 years, beginning right as they retired. Professionally, Richard had worked for a private scavenging business, while Marthann joined the volunteer team after serving as an administrative assistant at Timothy Christian Junior High.

The desire to help others is ingrained in them both, Marthann said.

“It’s that feeling of being a good Samaritan,” Richard said. “It feels good once you’ve helped out a nurse because she was busy, or you helped someone who needed to find their way around the hospital.”

When they’re not working in their respective units, the couple also volunteers time at the hospital’s front desk. Richard said his wife often outdoes him on the front desk, getting people the information they’re looking for quickly while he’s still referring to the hospital directory.

“She covers for me,” he laughed.

The pair has been indispensable this past winter, volunteering as many as four days a week despite the bad weather, Lewis said. While volunteers like the Veldmans are extremely dedicated to helping, the hospital could use more adult volunteers throughout the year. 

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Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. To find a physician, visit www.keepingyouwell.com.

Physicians on the medical staff of Adventist Midwest Health Hospitals are independent contractors, and are not agents of the hospitals.

Media contact: Chris LaFortune, communications specialist, Adventist Midwest Health, christopher.lafortune@ahss.org; (630) 856-2354.