Bayhealth employees number more than 3,100, making the hospital system one of the largest employers in Kent and Sussex counties. However, that number doesn’t include the volunteer corps, a group of 460-plus dedicated people who donate their time to support and advance the hospital’s mission.
Members of Mended Hearts, a national organization of heart surgery survivors, visit open heart patients in the Cardiovascular Surgical Intensive Care Unit. A visit from a person who’s had a similar experience is often the bright spot in a patient’s day.
“Cardiac patients have all kinds of questions. They are scared. They want to know whether this will happen again,” said Carmen Campanicki, Bayhealth volunteer and Mended Hearts member.
Campanicki, who had a massive heart attack eight years ago at age 72, needed a quadruple bypass and mitral valve repair. Paul Fedalen, MD, and John Mannion, MD, of Bayhealth Cardiovascular Surgical Associates, performed the procedures.
A year after his surgery, Campanicki attended his first Mended Hearts meeting and has remained active since.
“When you have heart problems, you feel anxiety and apprehension all the time,” Campanicki said. “Knowing someone is supporting you and showing you the path forward makes all the difference.”
“Volunteers give patients hope. Even though recovery is a long journey, they are optimistic that they will find a new normal, or get back to their old normal,” said Megan Holland, RN, MSN, CCRN, ACNS-BC, nurse manager of Bayhealth’s Cardiovascular Services Intensive Care Unit.
Campanicki visits patients in the CVSICU and talks with families and friends in the surgical waiting room. He stresses what he calls The Big 3: diet, medication and exercise.
“You can’t do it alone,” he cautions. “Your team has to be behind you so you don’t slip back into your old bad habits. Everyone needs to be reminded that eating right and taking care of yourself - it works. Look at me - I’ve had eight extra years so far.”
In 2012, volunteers at Bayhealth Milford Memorial served 27,166 hours. Volunteers at Bayhealth Kent General served 28,548. In addition to the services provided by the Milford Memorial Auxiliary and the Kent General Junior Board, Neighbor-to-Neighbor Volunteers sew, knit and crochet baby blankets, chemotherapy caps and lap robes, and other items for patient use.
Bayhealth officially recognized its volunteers at a recent breakfast event, Hats Off to You!
Several awards honored specific volunteers. Among those given were the President's Volunteer Service Award, presented to Jan D'Agostino for 4,135 hours of volunteer service, and the Bayhealth Kent General Physician’s Appreciation Award, presented to Robert Creecy Jr.
Anyone is welcome to volunteer at Bayhealth, and in fact, the large majority of volunteers are unaffiliated with the groups above. Students from local high schools also contribute their time and talents.
For more information on the Bayhealth volunteer program, go to www.bayhealth.org/volunteer. Call 302-744-7153 for Bayhealth Kent General, or 302-430-5621 for Bayhealth Milford Memorial.