Volunteer corps lifeblood of Sentara Albemarle Hospital

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Tuesday’s luncheon attracted a large crowd.

Tuesday’s luncheon attracted a large crowd.

ELIZABETH CITY — For many of us, when we walk into the hospital, we see the volunteers at the front desk but we know little of their duties and of the support that they provide.

In the course of their business — whether it is for administrative matters, for delivering a patient or for assisting with medical operations — these volunteers are very much the lifeblood of the hospital and its staff. The organization that these volunteers work under is the Albemarle Hospital Volunteered Services.

With the meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13, the volunteers had lunch at Montero’s Restaurant and the public session featured Coleen Santa Ana, President of the Sentara Albemarle Membership Committee. Santa Ana is also Administrator of Sentara Albemarle Hospital.


She provided a slide presentation about the progress of the hospital since being taken over by Sentara. She recapped the basic functions that have led from where they were to where they are as a financial Corporation, since taking over operation of the hospital. She related that in fiscal year 2012/13, the hospital was $60 million in debt and losing $8 million a year. Since then, the finances of the hospital had been turned around.

This has been accomplished through numerous measures intended to improve service while also improving the bottom line operating performance of this facility.

Though the restaurant offered a head table for VIPs, hospital volunteers were clearly the stars of this affair!

Though the restaurant offered a head table for VIPs, hospital volunteers were clearly the stars of this affair!

Investments have been made in equipment, furniture and fixtures in order to meet Sentara’s objectives. One investment in diagnostic imaging was quite expensive, but provided a better analysis of the medical conditions of patients and provided doctors with the opportunity to fully understand what the patient needed and how to treat the patient or perform the required surgery.

There has been significant attention applied to the dispute between the hospital and some of the more notable surgeons. However, with the inclusion of two chief surgeons who will be coming down from Virginia, they have shored up their surgical staff while continuing to keep the bottom line operating costs in mind.

Naturally, there have been personnel changes of various types. But had these reforms not been implemented, the likelihood of having kept the hospital operating was diminishing. Now, however, the hospital is on its way to profitability.

The financial health of the hospital and whether or not this facility had any long-term economic viability has been the subject of much conjecture. Clearly, the changes that have been made at the hospital have had some attendant difficulties, but as indicated by the financial picture above, the hospital would have been in dire straits and facing the threat of closing had it not been sold.

Interestingly enough, some of the members of the Board of Directors are now leading our county in other capacities.

Volunteers were the undeniable focus of this luncheon!

Of note is the “Volunteer’s Prayer” printed on the back page of the day’s agenda:

Almighty God and Heavenly Father of mankind, bless, we pray thee our endeavors in those hospitals in which we strive to bring comfort and hope to all who are in distress of mind and body. Guide us so that we may use the privilege given us to help the aged, the ill, and the very young, with generosity, with discretion and with gentleness. Grant us, we beseech thee, both wisdom and humility in directing our united efforts to do for others as Thou would have us to do.” Amen.

We think this says a great deal about these volunteers who donate their time and talents so that hospital personnel can spend their time performing other more critical care services. The men and women receive no pay and sometimes they eat a lot of crow. But they come back time in and time out in order to give back to the community in which they live.