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Program expands to support HCC mission
by Cindy Abole
Volunteers have often been referred to as the lifeblood of any
organization. At Hollings Cancer Center (HCC), volunteers are a
resource for patients, families and visitors because of their
commitment to service, pride in helping others, and support for quality
patient care. With more than an estimated 80,000- patient visits to HCC
annually, volunteers are steadfast contributors to the center’s daily
Since HCC opened its doors in 1993, volunteers have played a vital role
in the center’s mission of defeating cancer in South Carolina.
Following the opening of its seven-story tower facility and completion
of HCC’s expansion project in 2005, Hollings’ volunteer program was
re-established and underwent a rebirth of its mission and activities.
HCC volunteer Anna
Bailey serves a fresh pastry and drink to a patient undergoing
treatment in HCC’s infusion suite. Bailey is making the morning rounds
with the volunteer program’s courtesy cart to provide refreshments to
patients and families in HCC waiting and treatment areas.
“As plans for expanding the Hollings Cancer Center were being laid, a
group of HCC leaders, former patients and staff, also was seeking ways
to provide excellence in patient care. They wanted to improve the
quality of life and overall patient and family experience from the
moment they walked through HCC’s door,” said Carolyn Reed, M.D., deputy
director of HCC Clinical Affairs. “We wanted to build a first-class
volunteer program that would be meaningful and significant both to the
volunteer and the cancer center.”
Independent of the medical center and MUSC Children’s Hospital
volunteer programs, HCC volunteers are dedicated to supporting the
cancer center’s patients, their families and staff. Volunteers continue
to serve in numerous capacities involving patient and family care, and
provide support to administrative offices and clinical research staff.
Volunteers are placed within areas that closely match the cancer
center’s needs along with each volunteer’s interests, skills and
abilities, according to HCC Volunteer Program coordinator Denise Wiese.
“Our goal has been focused on finding ways to support Hollings Cancer
Center patients and their families by making them comfortable during
each visit. We hope to accomplish this by tapping into our own
volunteers’ talents and other community resources,” said Wiese, a
former Americorps Volunteer in Service to America participant who came
to HCC after working as program director for the Concerns of Police
Survivors program in Missouri.
Wiese said HCC volunteers assist with waiting area hospitality, in the
day treatment/infusion areas, and other areas to provide specific
administrative and clerical support. They also help staff at the
Looking Glass store and the newly-opened HCC Patient Resource Center.
“I can’t say enough about the value of our volunteers,” said Rhonda
Breeland, R.N., HCC nurse manager. “Volunteers are part of a corps of
individuals who interact and respond to the many needs of our patients
and their families. Our Hollings volunteers help in many capacities
from assisting with yoga classes and other activities attended by
patient support groups. More than half of our volunteers also
contribute their time to support roles within HCC administration,
clinical trials and the infusion areas. Each person is a valuable part
of our everyday mission.”
College students seeking work experience in a health care setting also
volunteer their time and experience with patients and families in
various jobs. College volunteers serve as lobby greeters, patient
escorts and in other patient relations roles.
Hannah Kozak is a pre-med student at the College of Charleston. Since
October, she has been volunteering weekly at HCC and loves it. “I
really like the time I spend with patients and staff whenever I’m
here,” said Kozak, an Annapolis, Md., native whose mother and aunt are
cancer survivors. “Everyone has been great and supportive of me.
I hope to continue my volunteering throughout 2008.”
Another important aspect of the volunteer program is fundraising. Wiese
said the volunteer program relies upon in-kind donations to provide
small comforts and amenities for patients and families in clinic
waiting areas and the infusion suite. For example, Blend restaurant
regularly donates pastries and fruit smoothies to waiting patients and
their families. Seacoast Church creates and donates homemade fleece
blankets for infusion patients. Additionally, the volunteer program
manages magazine and book donations for its clinics and other patient
The program has compiled a wish list for needed donations that include
snacks and drinks, blankets, electronics and gift cards. The
complete list is available at http://hcc.musc.edu/giving/wishlist.htm.
Volunteers also work with the administration and collaborate with the
HCC Citizens Advisory Council and Patient Caregiver Committee, which
advise the administration about patient care needs and other issues.
“It’s not difficult to see that the level of care provided at Hollings
Cancer Center is among the best-kept secrets on campus,” said Penny
Hoey, a bone marrow transplant survivor and HCC advocate. Hoey serves
as vice chair of the HCC Citizens Advisory Council and member of the
caregiver committee. “The center is an outstanding facility and staffed
with the most talented, caring individuals committed to improving the
human experience at the center by providing compassionate customer
HCC volunteers include students, working professionals, retirees,
former patients and their family and friends, or individuals who want
to work in a health care environment specializing in cancer care.
Volunteers must be at least 16 years old and commit to working a
two-to-three-hour work shift per week for a minimum of 100 hours a
year. Looking Glass shop volunteers must be at least 25 years old, and
Day Treatment/Infusion area volunteers must be at least 18 years old.
Applicants are interviewed by the Volunteer Services coordinator and
must complete a health screening, background check, and orientation and
review of MUSC policies and procedures. Meanwhile, Wiese keeps
volunteers informed through her monthly newsletter, The Volunteer
Connection, which is available online at http://hcc.musc.edu/giving/volunteernewsletters/volunteerconnections.htm.
For information on HCC Volunteer Program, visit http://hcc.musc.edu/giving/volunteer.htm.HCC
Resource Center now open
On Jan. 14, HCC opened its new Patient Resource Center located at HCC’s
first-floor area. The center is adjacent to other centrally-located
patient resources including the Looking Glass boutique,
chapel/meditation room and planned café and Pearlstine Healing
A comfortable place for patients, their families and the community; the
center can be used to conduct research on cancer and other health
topics from information provided in books, brochures, audio-visual
library, and a computer for Internet access. Center librarian Dee Owens
and HCC volunteers also are available to assist patients and visitors
The center is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information, call
Friday, Feb. 1, 2008
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