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

~June 2010~

Health Assessment--Benefit or Challenge?


Once volunteers are recruited, the next arduous task involves getting them through the bureaucratic red tape required for them to work in our healthcare facilities.  Those of us in the health care arena are often challenged by all the “hoops” that we must jump through in order to bring on new volunteers.  One of those “hoops” is the health assessment, which often includes TB skin tests, drawing blood to verify immunity to various diseases like rubella, rubeola, varicella, etc.  Most health care organizations follow the State Board of Health requirements along with recommendations from the Infection Control officer in making the determination as to the extent of the testing.  And some DVS folks see this as a deterrent to getting started. 

Just like the phrase “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down,” if we position this requirement in just the right way, we’re actually doing our potential volunteers a favor!

The things that generally are included in this blood work include:  rubella, rubeola, varicella and mumps – or more commonly known as measles, German measles, chicken pox and mumps.  All four of these childhood diseases are transferred through the air.  Which means if someone comes into your facility, either as a patient or visitor, and they are in the contagious phase of any of these diseases, the potential exists for people to become infected with the disease.  That would include volunteers who may have assisted that person – whether escorting them to their destination, helping to get a wheelchair or ringing up a sale in the gift shop.

So, the next time you have to explain why you are required to do such an extensive health assessment, take the opportunity to educate the future volunteer about the potential airborne transfer of disease and let them know that you are doing them a favor.  The screening is for their own protection – a way to begin the recognition process by letting them know that they are important to you, your program and your facility and you don’t want anything to happen to them.  It’s all in the packaging.


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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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