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HEALTH CARE VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS

This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs in health care settings.

~March 2009~

Healthcare and the Economic Downturn

With our economy in its current state, it seems as though there is no industry that is untouched.   You would think that people still get sick so healthcare should not be impacted to any degree, right?  Wrong!  Healthcare has also experienced the current economic downturn.  And while people are still getting sick, there are some very definitive reasons that healthcare is also being affected.

  1. More people are delaying any elective surgeries.
  2. People have lost their health insurance.
  3. People are delaying going to the doctor with any illness often ending up sicker in the long run.

Consider some implications for hospital volunteer directors/managers/leaders?

  1. Positions are being eliminated – We have often read/heard that the director/manager of volunteers is the first position to go.  And while there may be cost savings, it’s very shortsighted.  Just when other positions are cut, volunteers will be in greater demand because more departments will be looking to volunteers to help provide services.  With an increased need for volunteers doing more things, who will lead the effort?
  1. Recruitment should be easier – While all the people who have experienced the economic downturn first hand by being laid off, a percentage of those folks will turn to the healthcare field because it is perceived as one that will be stable in years to come.  After all, the largest percentage of the population is now hitting the retirement years, aging into a time when healthcare will be accessed more.  As such, be ready, willing and able to embrace those who are likely to start knocking on your door.
  1. Gift shop sales are down – Like any retail establishment, gift shop sales are down.  The challenge is to keep the gift shop looking fresh, turning merchandise as often as possible.  Most hospital gift shops enjoy their employees as loyal returning customers but if they see the same old thing visit after visit for long periods of time, they will quit coming.
  1. Guild/auxiliary revenue will decline – Most gift shop profits belong to the hospital guild/auxiliary or foundation.  And if sales are down in the gift shops, then it’s only logical for revenue to be down as well.
  1. Declining revenue will not allow hospital donations as in the past – It goes without saying that if guilds/auxiliaries and foundations are experiencing a shortfall in revenue, they will be unable to provide dollars back to hospital programs and services as they have in past years.

April column:  thoughts on how directors/managers can keep their jobs.


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The author of the Heath Care Volunteer Programs column is Mary Kay Hood , MS Hendricks Regional Health, Danville, IN (317) 745-3556. With a BS degree in biology from Marian College and a Master of Science in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, Mary Kay has been involved in volunteer management over twenty years with a zoo and in the health care field. During that time, she completed the Management of Volunteer Programs course offered at University of Indianapolis, several supervisory training programs as well as the Indiana Hospital and Health Association’s Management Institute offered by the Executive Education Program, School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Mary Kay served on the Nonprofit Training Center of United Way from 1993 to 2006. During that time, she taught many workshops also facilitating speaker arrangements for the Basic Volunteer Management series. Additionally, she has presented at various national and international conferences. Mary Kay served as president of the Central Indiana Association for Volunteer Administration (CIAVA) from 1993-1997 and the Indiana Society of Directors of Volunteer Services (ISDVS) from 2006-2008. She was also the recipient of the 1995 Outstanding Director of Volunteer Services Award and the 2002 United Way of Central Indiana Volunteer of the Year Award. Most recently she served on the Steering Committee for COVAA resulting in the formation of a new national membership organization for those in volunteer management, the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE). With several published articles, she is also author to two books: The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions and The Volunteer Leader as Change Agent.

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