WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — United Regional is home to hundreds of physicians, nurses, administrative staff, and one very special group in particular: volunteers.
They give their time and energy to the health care system not because they have to, but because they know it can make one of the worst days of a patient’s life, just a little brighter.
United Regional Auxiliary President and URHCS volunteer Rainer “Ray” Hanold served 30 years active duty in the United States Air Force.
“When I retired, the biggest thing that I found was the lack of interaction with people,” Hanold said.
Now you can find Hanold on the 8th floor of the Bridwell tower at the guest seating area of the cath lab.
“I greet them, I tell them a little bit about what is going to happen, the process,” Hanold said. “Putting them at ease, because obviously, they’re here with the possibility of something very stressful taking place in their lives.”
Hanold has been volunteering at United Regional for about 11 years now, it’s obvious by the pin worn on his shirt that showcases the 2,000 + hours of brightening days through volunteering.
“I try to make it lighthearted, try to put them at ease and let them know there’d be someone guiding them through the day,” Hanold said. “In the end, you make new friends in the process too.”
COVID-19 shut down the volunteer program for a little more than a year and the numbers reflect the pandemic’s impact.
“Before COVID [-19], we had about 100 active volunteers, right now we have about 22 that come in daily and volunteer their time and then we have 20 sewers that come in and volunteer,” United Regional Director of Community Relations & Volunteer Services Kim Maddin said.
Maddin said the volunteers’ contributions are invaluable, including the financial boost provided by the volunteer-run gift shop and coffee cart.
“Our volunteers typically volunteer anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 hours a year so if you do the math on that, that’s about the equivalent of 13 to 15 full-time employees,” Maddin said. “When they weren’t here, I can’t tell you the number of times our phone was ringing saying when are they coming back? We miss them.”
That sentiment rings true for the volunteers themselves.
“I’m just tickled, people here are terrific to volunteer with, there may be an opportunity there for you to interact back into the community rather than be a couch potato,” Hanold said. “It truly has been the best thing I’ve ever done as a volunteer.”
A ray of sunshine during what can be a very gloomy time in a patient’s life.
Hanold is one of just four men who volunteer at United Regional, his wife also volunteers there.
If you are interested in donating your time, contact information can be found here.