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Aurora Health Care honors volunteers from throughout eastern Wisconsin

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Aurora Health Care held a celebration Monday to honor and thank the thousands of volunteers who contribute enormously to the high quality of care and service Aurora patients receive.

More than 1,600 people from throughout eastern Wisconsin attended the event at State Fair Park in West Allis. The celebration coincided with the beginning of National Volunteer Week, which recognizes people who freely give of their time.

See photos of the event

"Our volunteers help to provide those important touches that make a world of difference in the experiences of our patients and their families," said Nick Turkal, MD, president and chief executive officer of Aurora Health Care. "We are fortunate to have so many wonderful, talented people supporting the work we do in our communities, and we wanted to take time to say thank you."

More than 3,200 volunteers share their time and talents at 23 Aurora locations. Last year they contributed a total of 300,000 hours of volunteer time.

Among those attending Monday's event was Blanche Barta, 95, of Delavan, who has contributed a staggering 40,000 hours during her career as a volunteer. Barta volunteers at Aurora Lakeland Medical Center in Elkhorn.

Other volunteers highlighted during the event included Kay Biebl, who volunteers at Vince Lombardi Cancer Center in Oshkosh; Don Leaman, 89, a discharge escort at West Allis Memorial Hospital; Bob and Pat Borucki, escorts at Aurora BayCare Medical Center; and Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center greeters Dick Lubinski and Eric Wagner.

The work of Aurora's volunteers is as varied as the people who are giving of their time. Volunteer activities include:

  • Ambassadors who welcome and escort patients and families through Aurora's hospitals
  • Bakers who make treats in patient care and waiting areas and help create a home-like, comforting environment
  • Pet therapy handlers who share their animals with patients in order to brighten their day
  • A scrapbooking volunteer who offers free workshops every week with all ages of patients at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital
  • Floor PALS who assist patients in any way possible, whether it is getting a drink of water, a warm blanket or just making a visit
  • Musicians who play piano in lobbies or the harp in patient care areas
  • Patient advocates who meet with all newly admitted patients to ensure their hospital stay is comfortable
  • Hospice volunteers who are specially trained to provide loving care to patients at the end of life
  • Knitters who create baby hats and booties, lap blankets, afghans, prayer shawls and baby blankets
  • Neonatal intensive care unit volunteers who hold our tiniest patients, providing comfort and the all-important human touch
  • Activity-cart staff who walk through hospitals and clinics offering books, magazines and games

Those who attended Monday's events were welcomed by Dr. Turkal, West Allis Mayor Dan Devine, State Sen. Jim Sullivan and State Rep. Tony Staskunas. They also heard videotaped messages from Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and U.S. Rep. Gwendolynne Moore.

According to research by the Corporation for National & Community Service, Aurora volunteers are part of a proud heritage throughout Wisconsin. Statistics show:

  • In 2006, 1.53 million Wisconsin volunteers dedicated 171 million hours of service.
  • Between 1989 and the present, Wisconsin's volunteer rate increased by 6.5 percentage points.
  • Among all states, Wisconsin had the sixth-highest volunteer rate for young adults, the ninth-highest rate of college students, and the tenth-highest rate for older adults.
  • Wisconsin was one of 17 states in the nation in which providing professional services was one of the top four activities for volunteers.
  • In addition to the 1.53 million Wisconsin volunteers in 2006, more than 128,000 people participated informally by working with their neighbors to improve the community.
  • Overall, 40.5 percent of people in Wisconsin engaged in civic life by volunteering, working with their neighbors, or attending public meetings.

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers care at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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Contact: Sue Pierman (414-647-6432)

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