Volunteers, chaplains provide heartbeat at Tennova hospital

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Mar 2, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Volunteers at Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon have many responsibilities, but perhaps the most outstanding thing is the undercurrent of support provided by the group. 

The independent nonprofit group is made up of caring people, local pastors and those with a general interest of giving back to their community. 

“I think it takes a certain personality to be a volunteer. You have to be caring, I think to start with, and just really giving to other people,” said Harold “Scottie” Scott, secretary for the volunteer auxiliary. “I work the outpatient area, and a lot of the time a volunteer is the first face that a lot of the patients meet. We’re that first impression, a lot of times, of the hospital itself. I find a lot of the time they’re dealing with either the anxiety of the procedure they’re going to have, or if it’s a visitor here to see a patient, they’re wondering about them.” 

Volunteers typically work four-to-six-hour shifts in a particular area of the hospital. They cover a wide range of supportive duties and often offer an ear or helping hand to patients and visitors. 

“They might just need a shoulder to cry on. When I started, I was in the surgical wing, and there were many times that people are in there hurting, and they just want somebody to listen to them,” said Lee Holcolmb, a volunteer and former hospital administrator. 

Her husband, Timothy Holcolmb, also serves as a volunteer and vice president for the auxiliary. 

“Lee and I have worked together for years. She was a hospital administrator, and I’m a physician. We retired about four years ago and started missing the life of the hospital, the patients, the other employees and all. We took to the volunteering to get our feet back in the hospital. It really does make you feel good to help people. Some people in the hospital, they’re lost. It’s kind of a big maze here, and they may be traumatized or worried anyway, so it just makes you feel good to be able to help them out,” Timothy Holcolmb said.  

The chaplains, a division of the volunteer auxiliary, are responsible for taking care of the spiritual needs of patients.

“If someone’s real ill or you’ve lost someone and you need somebody to pray with or just be there for you, the chaplains are there. And we also have a chapel,” said Shirley Brawner, a volunteer. 

William Wiley serves as the chair of the volunteer chaplains. Many of the volunteer chaplains are also pastors in Lebanon and surrounding communities. They are ordained or laypersons of the church with a specific mission to provide spiritual care for patients and sometimes visitors, as well. 

“As far as the chaplains are concerned, we’re called in specifically for religious needs. As an ecumenical group, we try to meet the religious need for the patient, as well as for staff,” Wiley said.

Patients are asked to specify their religious affiliation when checking in to the hospital. The chaplains can then approach each situation with the necessary respect and sensitivity. 

“The hospital here is not just about the body, it’s also the mind. As chaplains we’re here to minister to the spirit of the individual,” Wiley said. “When we come into the room, we can ask the family if they would like for us to contact the religious individual of their faith. We have to approach that extremely careful and allow there to be some understanding as that we want the patient’s religious community to come in and help.”

The volunteer auxiliary functions as a nonprofit independent of Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon. It has its own board and elected officials within the group, including the sunshine chair, a position currently held by Susie Blake. 

Community groups will often donate to the volunteers, who then distribute things for patients in different areas of the hospital. They stuff teddy bears for child patients, set out food in waiting rooms and even put together care packages for patients leaving the hospital. They hold fundraisers and also donate to community projects such as Sherry’s Run, Jeri’s Ride, Christmas for All, Salvation Army of Wilson County and Joseph’s Storehouse.

The volunteer auxiliary welcomes new people to apply for the team. 

“Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon is truly fortunate to have the Tennova Volunteer Auxiliary as part of our hospital team. Volunteers serve an important role in our organization and are often the first people patients and families encounter. We currently have more than 30 active volunteers who performed more than 7,500 hours of service for 2017. We are always looking for additional volunteers to join our family. If you have a desire to help, we have a place for you,” said Traci Pope, director of community relations. 

Those who wish to apply for the volunteer auxiliary must submit an application, undergo a health screening and meet for an interview. The president and board of Tennova will work with accepted volunteers to find a right place for them to serve. 

“The first person I see in the hospital every day is a volunteer, and it really sets a great tone. The enthusiasm and warmth that they share each day is a constant reminder of our privilege to serve at Wilson County’s only hospital. Our volunteers go above and beyond every day with contributions that make this a wonderful healing place,” said Robert D. Grey, ACEO. 

To find out more about involvement with the volunteer auxiliary, call 615-443-6252, email traci.pope@tennova.com or visit tennova.com.

Recommended for You

    Lebanon Democrat Videos