Orange Park Hospital volunteers find fulfillment in giving back

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 7/6/22

ORANGE PARK – Behind the doctors, nurses and staff members there is a dedicated faith-based team supporting patients at HCA Florida Orange Park Hospital.

The volunteers have existed in some form …

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Orange Park Hospital volunteers find fulfillment in giving back

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Behind the doctors, nurses and staff members there is a dedicated faith-based team supporting patients at HCA Florida Orange Park Hospital.

The volunteers have existed in some form since 1974. Volunteers can assist numerous departments such as the surgical or ER departments, the gift shop or the IT department. They can also drive golf carts on campus.

Veronica Kight has volunteered since 2009. After an enriching 30-year career, she interviewed and joined the same day. The tasks vary and depend on the needs of the day, she said.

“My gift was to give back to people hurting,” Kight said. “It’s been my joy, it’s been my comfort.”

Kight said the hospital allowed her to share the love with the community and the patients. She added she’s grown to see the needs of people during the COVID-19 Pandemic through love and compassion.

Kight said she finds herself drawn to patients.

“When the pandemic hit the hospital, people were unsure when things were very uncertain,” Kight said. “I was open to that need for the people, it got me to appreciate the hospital for having the spiritual pastoral side of things for all ages, all sizes.”

A volunteer of about a year, Steve Gill comes from the medical field with a physician’s background. He wanted to “ease out” of the medical field about four or five years ago, he said.

Gill joked his medical advice days are over, but the shift gave him a clear path from medical to spiritual.

“I thought, ‘Well this is a perfect transition,’” Gill said. “It’s been a real blessing.”

It is definitely a different perspective to health care, Gill said. Volunteers go into a patient's room and bring in love, hope and compassion.

“It’s a very different perspective. I began to look at how God wanted me to minister to people,” Gill said. “We can learn from each other. Sometimes people just need people to talk to.”

Chaplain Reese Edwards leads the pastoral care group of 12 volunteers. He wants them to bring hope to patients.

Edwards stresses that volunteers could go into situations where people may die.

“The one thing I’m looking in a volunteer is that they are called by God to be here,” Edwards said. “It’s not to brag or place on a résumé, it’s to share God’s love and hope in a time that could be stressful.”

For those considering volunteering, Kight says to pray on it. More information is available under the “Visitor” tab at hcafloridahealthcare.com.

“You have to feel love unconditionally and step outside your comfort zone,” she said. “What people are looking for is someone to listen to them and comfort them because they might know about something. Just be a good listener.”

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