volunteers get more from giving
The Flower Shop volunteers are Red Cross volunteers who dedicate two to three hours of their time each week to arrange flower bouquets for patients and events at the Clinical Center. They also supply floral arrangements for the three hospitality desks in the Clinical Center, decorate the store and assist customers with orders.
Floride has faithfully recruited her husband Harry, (who drives to a warehouse each week to pick up supplies for the shop), her neighbors and friends. Most admit that they had no previous floral-arranging experience, but learned by trial and error.
"I would learn a lot from watching other people," said Ann Hall. "It's great just to see how flowers lift spirits." Ann and her husband, Arthur, have been volunteering at the flower shop as a team for more than five years. They set aside every Tuesday to help out.
"We've had friends who were patients here and we've known parishioners who have been on the faculty, so just to be a part of NIH and give a tiny bit back makes us proud," said Arthur.
All proceeds from the flower shop go to support the Friends of the Clinical Center, a nonprofit, charitable organization that provides emergency financial aid to NIH patients and their families. Some patients and their families are stressed and often suffer loss of income while being treated at the Clinical Center. The organization depends solely on contributions to provide financial assistance to patients and their families who are facing crises resulting from long-term illnesses. Last year, the organization helped nearly 50 families to pay their rent, utilities and other third-party bills.
"Volunteers are essential; you rely on them," said Lila Nathanson. Nathanson has been volunteering at the flower shop for seven months. Prior to that, she volunteered at the Prevention of Blindness Society. She said she has a knack for arranging flowers, and for the past five years she has learned Japanese flower arranging. Nathanson said one thing she has learned in her years of working as a volunteer is that volunteers are never taken for granted. "If you volunteer, then you are important," she said.
With many patients traveling to the Clinical Center from foreign countries, the need for interpreters has grown significantly over the past 10 years.
In 1990, there were only two volunteer interpreters who spoke Spanish, and the Office of Volunteer Services received one call a week for an interpreter. Today, the numbers have grown to over 100 volunteer interpreters and 42 different languages. Yet, it is still difficult to meet the demands of the patients.
"We are facing a lot of challenges. Patients are being brought in from different countries, and we are required to provide good, quality patient care, and that includes interpreters," said Andrea Rander, director of Volunteer Services. "But if we don't know in advance when the patient is arriving, then we are going to have a problem providing that type of quality care."
Volunteer Services isn't always notified when an interpreter is needed. There have been cases where patients have had to wait several hours for interpreters to be found so that the patient can be admitted.
"It's hard to see patients just sitting there," said Valarie Bailey, admission assistant. "We just keep trying to reassure them that we are working hard to try and get someone to come and help them."
Nancy Pierre just happened to walk out of her office in Hospitality Services when she was approached by an employee at the admissions desk about a French-speaking patient who needed an interpreter and had been waiting a few hours. Pierre, a native of Haiti, and fluent in both French and Creole, assisted the patient, and was sympathetic about the amount of time spent waiting for an interpreter.
"The way we present ourselves to the patients reflects the Clinical Center as a whole. Unfortunately, when you don't have enough interpreters to help patients, it's the patient that suffers," said Pierre.
Oftentimes Rander receives emergency calls for interpreters and must contact each volunteer by telephone. If the volunteers are unavailable, then other resources are tapped. In one case, Rander said she received a request for an interpreter who speaks Amharic, a dialect of Ethiopia. While walking down the hallway, she ran into a friend who is from Ethiopia. In casual conversation, she happened to ask if he spoke Amharic. Unfortunately, he didn't, but he knew a doctor in the CC who did.
A similar situation occurred with a patient who spoke Hebrew. There were no interpreters who spoke Hebrew, however an employee knew someone in the community who spoke the language. "After we contacted her, she gave us a whole list of people who were fluent in Hebrew and willing to volunteer," said Rander.
Because of that one resource, the Embassy of Israel contacted Volunteer Services and offered its assistance when needed. "We just ask to be given a little notice, and we will find someone, and if we can't, then we will tell them and find other resources," said Rander.
That is how Monica Sullivan came to the CC. A native of Chile, Sullivan spoke Spanish and learned German from her father before mastering English. Sullivan had a friend who volunteered as an interpreter at a hospital in Houston. Her friend became ill and later died. Her death inspired Sullivan to volunteer, so she informed her neighbor of the decision and her neighbor, a Red Cross volunteer at the CC, put her in contact with Volunteer Services.
"If I can help out in any small way, I try to do that," said Sullivan. "I'm not a physician or a nurse, but I help out in a social capacity and it's very rewarding."
Sullivan is one of the few interpreters who work a regular schedule. Each Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. she checks in at the Volunteer Services Office to see where she is needed. If she has spare time, or is not needed immediately, Sullivan said she goes to the Red Cross information desk and looks over the patient list to see if there are any names she recognizes from previous visits. If so, she will go and visit them.
"Many patients come back every two or four months and when I see their names, I immediately know who they are," said Sullivan. "It's difficult not to become personally involved. We are asked not to form relationships with the patients, but in many cases it's hard not to."
With the ever-increasing number of ethnic groups that enter the Clinical Center, more employees with medical knowledge are needed to help interpret. "They donÕt have to be available every hour, but their names will go on a list and they will be contacted if they are needed," said Rander. "It's the goodness of the interpreters that makes this program work."
Anyone interested in volunteering, call Andrea Rander at 301-496-1808.
-by Tanya C. Brown
The "Mad as a Hatter? Campaign for a Mercury-Free NIH" will kick off April 26 in Bldg. 10, in conjunction with Earth Day and Take Your Child to Work Day. There will be handouts, booths and presentations to help employees, their families and the community understand the hazardous effects of mercury in the workplace, homes, schools and the environment.
The kick off begins phase-two of the mercury reduction rogram, a NIH-wide initiative to dispose of all uses of mercury-containing devices, including non-medical devices in laboratories and electrical equipment.
The initial phase began in 1996, when the Clinical Center took steps to eliminate all unnecessary uses of mercury in medical devices and laboratory chemicals. Nearly 1,500 mercury-containing devices were removed, and today the CC is virtually mercury free.
"We hope to build on the success of the Clinical Center campaign," said Capt. Ed Rau, environmental health director, Division of Safety, Office of Research Services (ORS).
Mercury spills from broken thermometers are the most common hazardous material response incident in NIH facilities, according to a report from the ORS. Such spills can contaminate air to hazardous levels and require special equipment and decontamination by the NIH fire department.
"Some people think mercury is perfectly harmless to work with because they played with it as a child," said Karen Helfer, information officer, DS. Helfer said mercury is a curious material, and children would often find it and play with it. "We want those people to overcome their prior belief that mercury isn't dangerous."
The campaign not only covers mercury-containing devices in laboratories, but will also concentrate on removing mercury in electrical equipment such as thermostats, switches, fluorescent light bulbs and batteries that contain small amounts of mercury.
"For most uses of mercury, there are substitutes, and use of these alternatives is encouraged" said Rau. "A little bit of mercury is a lot. We don't have much left here, but we want to try and keep it as low as possible." For the few uses for which there is no substitute, mercury can still be used with appropriate safety precautions. All mercury waste must be segregated and carefully labeled in order to be recycled efficiently.
The voluntary campaign requires participants to sign a pledge to survey their work areas for items containing mercury, dispose of them properly, and replace them with mercury-free alternatives. A drawing for prizes will be held for all pledges that are submitted. For more information or to submit a pledge electronically, visit the website at www.nih.gov/od/ors/ds/nomercury.
After more than 34 years of repairing and maintaining medical equipment, Joseph Bucolo is leaving his job as a biomedical technician with the Materials Management Department and moving to Tennessee to spend time with his family and enjoy his retirement.
Bucolo came to the Clinical Center in September 1966, after working five years as an electrical engineer with NASA, where he created electronic components for spacecrafts.
Seven years ago, Bucolo had the opportunity to retire, but he enjoyed his job so much that he decided against it. Bucolo was responsible for checking the safety of each piece of medical equipment that entered the CC. He also repaired the equipment and performed routine maintenance.
"I enjoy helping the patients and the doctors," said Bucolo. "First and foremost is the patient and making sure that all the equipment works so that the patients can be helped."
Although he won't be working a full-time job, at age 62, Bucolo said he is too young to retire and will probably work a part-time job just to keep busy. When heÕs not working, he hopes to tend to his garden and develop his woodworking skills by building furniture and crafts.
Take child to work
NIH will sponsor a fun, educational opportunity for children ages 8 to 15 during the Take Your Child to Work Day, April 26, from 9 to 4. The event was designed to introduce school-aged children to the vital public services their parents provide and encourage them to consider careers in medical research. For a listing of activities, registration requirements, and other information,visit the website at www.cc.nih.gov/ccc/nihkids. For accommodations for disabilities, contact Gary Morin 496-4628, (TTY) 496-9755. For more information, contact Joyce Starks at 402-6068 or Ana Kennedy at 496-4547.
The NIH is once again soliciting awards from the ICs for quality-of-worklife accomplishments. Award categories include strengthening family-friendly work programs, strengthening workplace learning and change management activities, improving communication with employees, promoting the effectiveness of diversity management and fostering overall workplace improvement. The deadline for submissions is April 20. For more information, visit the website at www1.od.nih.gov/ohrm/qwl/awards/awards-toc.htm or call Wendy Thompson at 301-435-1619.
ÒEssential Bridges: Using the Humanities in Medical and Therapeutic Settings" will be held on Friday, April 27, 8:30 to 5 at the Neuroscience Conference Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard. Registration deadline is April 6. Registration fee of $30.00 covers all materials, sessions, workshops, continental breakfast, lunch, and closing reception. Featured poets include Linda Pastan and Richard McCann.
The Department of Transfusion Medicine is in critical need of type O blood. Several recent surgical procedures have significantly depleted the inventory of this type blood. If you have type O blood, please donate by visiting the Blood Bank, Room 1C-713B, or call 496-1048 to verify the best time to donate. We need your help to contintue to supply blood to our patients.
You are invited to attend the Thyroid Cancer Support Group for survivors, families and friends, every second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Meetings are held in the Social Work Conference Room 1N248, Bldg. 10. For more information contact Margaret Sarris at 301-496-6020.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is seeking women, ages 18-42, to participate in a study comparing bone density in healthy women. You may be eligible to participate if you have no medical conditions and a regular menstrual cycle, not pregnant, nursing or planning pregnancy over the next three years; do not use oral contraceptives or prescribed medications; smoke less than two cigarettes per day; and drink less than two alcoholic drinks per day. Participation involves four visits over a three-year period, blood test, bone density test, urine test and cognitive testing. Compensation is provided. For more information call 301-435-7926 or 301-594-3839.
Uveitis and JRA
Doctors are investigating the safety and effectiveness of the drug etanercept (Enbrel) against a placebo. If your child has uveitis associated with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, consider enrolling him/her in the study by calling 1-800-411-1222 (TTY 1-866-411-1010). All participants will have the opportunity to be on the study medication. Volunteers will be compensated.
Sickle cell study
Individuals with sickle cell disease are asked to participate in a six-hour bood study during which nitric oxide, a substance produced naturally by the body, will be given. Researchers believe that nitric oxide may improve the flow of blood, which may reduce complications and improve the overall health of people with sickle cell disease. Volunteers will receive a free heart exam as part of the study and will have their progress followed for two years. If you are between the ages of 18 and 65 and have sickle cell disease, you may be able to take part in this study. Call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY: 1-866-411-1010).
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development invites healthy women, ages 45-70, to participate in a study of a new investigational hormonal treatment for menopause. You may be eligible if you are not diabetic, had no menstrual periods for at least one year, do not take hormone replacement therapy, do not smoke and have not had a hysterectomy. Participation involves brief weekly outpatient visits over 8-10 weeks. Compensation is provided. Call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY: 1-866-411-1010).
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is conducting a study to test the safety and effectiveness of a potential new Crohn's disease treatment against a placebo (a substance that neither harms nor helps). If you are 18 or older with moderate Crohn's symptoms, call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY: 1-866-411-1010) for more information.
The National Institutes of Health seek people 18-65, with early onset or later stage TMD for a study testing treatment medications against a placebo. Call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY 1-866-411-1010).
Back and leg pain
The NIH Pain Research Clinic is conducting research studies to improve the treatment of chronic back and leg pain. The clinic is interested in pain resulting from a pinched lumbar nerve caused by conditions such as a herniated disc, a bone spur or arthritis. You may be able to take part if you are age 18 or older and if you have had pain in your back and leg or buttock for the last 3 months. Call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY 1-866-411-1010).
Clinical Center News, 6100 Executive Blvd., Suite 3C01, MSC 7511, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-7511. Tel: 301-496-2563. Fax: 301-402-2984. Published monthly for CC employees by the Office of Clinical Center Communications, Colleen Henrichsen, chief. News, article ideas, calendar events, letters, and photographs are welcome. Deadline for submissions is the second Monday of each month.
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Grant Magnuson Clinical Center
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This page last reviewed on 09/9/09