VIDEO: Area Hospital Volunteers Heal With Smiles, Compassion, Positive Attitude

By  //  March 17, 2017

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ABOVE VIDEO: They help heal with smiles and compassion. Their cheerful and positive attitude can go a long way when patients and family members are under stress. They deliver hope. They often help shape a patient’s first impression of a hospital. Meet some of Brevard’s best hospital volunteers.

Providing Dedicated, Compassionate and Conscientious Service Across the Healthcare Community

They are often the first point of contact for patients and visitors to a hospital. Their smiling faces help put us at ease as they guide us through the confusing journey that can be hospital visit or stay.

On April 2, 2011, the first day Viera Hospital was open for business, Sharon and Harald Jacobsen were already at their posts.

On April 2, 2011, the first day Viera Hospital was open for business, Sharon Harald Jacobsen was already at the job. (Keith Betterley image)

They are surrogate relatives for lonely patients, helping make their hospital stay more bearable. They bring comfort to families under stress.

For hospital administrators, particularly during this battened-down economy, they are heaven sent, for they perform duties that would be costly to duplicate with paid staff.

These unofficial ambassadors for healthcare organizations are also happy to sing the praises of the hospital they themselves so love.

They help heal with smiles and compassion. Their cheerful and positive attitude can go a long way when patients and family members are under stress. They deliver hope. They often help shape a patient’s first impression of a hospital. They are the volunteers.

They share their love, experience and time with patients, visitors, staff and administrators. They are the hospital volunteers.

They help heal with smiles and compassion. Their cheerful and positive attitude can go a long way when patients and family members are under stress. They deliver hope. They often help shape a patient’s first impression of a hospital. They are the volunteers.

They work without pay in a variety of healthcare settings, where they are critically important members of the healing team, benefitting patients, visitors and the healthcare system they serve.

Meet some of Brevard’s best hospital volunteers.

MARGARET VAN BEVER – Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center

Margaret Van Bever has volunteered at Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center since 1964. Yes, that’s right, since 1964.

hospital-volunteers-van-bever-poster-580-1“I’ve been a volunteer at Homes for 52 years going on 53,” said the Suntree resident with pride. “I started when I was 28 years old.”

Van Bever is one of those amazing individuals who overflow with enthusiasm for the job at hand, even after six decades. The United States workforce could use her.

“I tell people I’m like the Energizer Bunny, because I have to keep on going,” she joked. “I’m 80 years old, but I don’t look it and don’t act it.”

When she moved from Eau Gallie to Suntree, Van Bever thought of shifting her service to another hospital, which shall remain unnamed, but thought the atmosphere was just too slow for her speed and, anyway, she has serious connections with Holmes.

“My husband has had several surgeries and he’s never gone anywhere but Holmes for them,” said Van Bever. “My three grandchildren were born there, as were two great-grandchildren.”

For 24 years, son Brent has worked at Holmes, where he was born when the then tiny hospital was located on U.S. 1.

Only older son Mark, court administrator for the 18th Judicial District, didn’t first see the light of day at Holmes, but rather in Virginia, where Van Bever lived before heading south to Brevard after husband Fred took a job with Radiation, the precursor of Harris Corporation.

“You could say we’re a Holmes family,” said Van Bever.

When Van Bever first arrived at Holmes, the hospital was a very different entity. Computers were nonexistent and the volunteers at the information desk, her first job, had to flip through Rolodex files to find the patients.

During her tenure, Van Bever has served as a courier and at the surgical intensive care desk, but her assignment to the Emergency Department was love at first sight.

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“It’s where I felt I could do the most service, even if it is just to bring a smile to a patient’s face,” said Van Bever.

Throughout her amazing volunteer career, Van Bever has also served her church, the First Baptist Church of Melbourne, as well as Easter Seals, where she served children with disabilities and stroke patients.

With Holmes, she has accumulated more than 34,000 hours of service. If she had been able to do that in one stint, she would have been working at Holmes about four years nonstop.

“I’ve always had a heart to serve,” said the octogenarian.

ERNEST WILLIAMS – Health First’s Palm Bay Hospital

A hospital stay turned into a passion for volunteer service for Ernest Williams.

hospital-volunteers-williams-poster-580-1“I went into Palm Bay Hospital because of my problems with diabetes,” said Williams. “After I got through that, I decided it was time to give back.”

Six years ago, Williams began volunteering at Health First Palm Bay Hospital; it was a decision he never regretted.
“You meet so many great people,” said the Palm Bay resident.

During his service with the hospital, Williams has provided more than 3,000 volunteer hours, primarily with badging duties in the Emergency Department and as a greeter at the hospital’s entrance to administration and physicians’ offices.

While on some weeks he might put in five or six hours, others can be very different.

“I sometimes put in as much as 40 hours if I’m needed,” said Williams.

Williams brings his volunteer job the same discipline and dedication he honed in the military while serving his country as a communications specialist with the United States Army.

“Volunteer work at the hospital has a lot of similarities with the military, because you are helping people and you are also building friendships that will last a lifetime,” he said.

In addition to his official volunteer duties at the hospital, Williams also gladly helps out friends and acquaintances.

“If they need a ride to the doctor’s, I am always happy to help,” he said.

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He moved to Palm Bay from Miami in 2003 because as a single parent, he wanted a better place in which to raise his daughter, Alexus LaShae Claude-Williams, now 21 and a student at the University of Central Florida.

As for chilling out with hobbies or sports, there is no need, says Williams.

“I don’t need hobbies if I have work,” he said. “I’m happiest when I’m giving back to the community in a meaningful way.”

SUE ELLIS – Wuesthoff Medical Center, Melbourne

Sue Ellis remembers well that years ago her mom spoke fondly of her volunteer work at Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center.

hospital-volunteers-ellis-580-1“She would come in feeling so proud of what she was doing,” said the Melbourne resident. “She enjoyed it so much.”

Ellis realizes, as we all should, that Mother knows best, so when she retired in 2006 from a career as customer service representative handling company accounts for Sorensen Moving & Storage, she followed her mom’s advice and became a hospital volunteer, but to spread the wealth around, she opted for Wuesthoff Medical Center Melbourne over Holmes Regional.

“Wuesthoff is my hospital and I live very near to it, so I went with Wuesthoff,” said Ellis.

In addition to her hospital work, Ellis also volunteers as an usher at the King Center for the Performing Arts.

To chill out, she walks four or five miles a day and exercises several times a week with the Silver Sneakers senior exercise program.

When her two granddaughters from Miami visit, Ellis treats them to the theater at the historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, the Henegar Center or Melbourne Civic Theatre.

She’s also sweet-talked her friend, Craig Waymire, to volunteer at a hospital, so now he tools around ferrying visitors to Holmes Regional.

“I told him how interesting the job was and he decided to give it a go,” said Ellis.

Ellis brings decades of experience in helping the public to her Wuesthoff job, which entails helping patients and visitors at the information desk. Before her job with Sorensen, Ellis and her late husband owned a limo service, filling stations and auto repair shop in the Eau Gallie district of Melbourne.

As the first point of contact at the hospital, Ellis has the critical job of helping anyone who goes into Wuesthoff Melbourne feel right at home.

Patients are coming in for surgeries or diagnostic work and family members visiting are concerned about their loved ones. Nobody is feeling chipper when they first approach Ellis, who tries to encourage positivity on those she meets.

“I know these folks are worried about coming into the hospital, so I try to make them feel at ease,” she said.

Ellis’ motto is perfect for someone who has to field varied and sometimes unnerving inquiries as part of her volunteer job.

“I always believe in the British saying of “keep calm and carry on,” she said.

NANCE & PHIL BURROUGHS – Health First’s Viera Hospital

It is 5:30 in the morning and Viera hospital volunteer Nance Burroughs is already welcoming patients to the Surgical Reception Area.

hospital-volunteers-nance-and-phil-burroughs-580-1“Patients come in early for the procedures, so I’m there to greet them,” said the Satellite Beach resident.
Nance’s cheerful attitude makes a big difference with folks getting ready for outpatient surgery.

“Her bright smile and compassionate nature puts our patients completely at easy as they embark on their surgical journey,” said Joelle Boccabella, Viera Hospital’s manager of volunteer services.

A former marketing director at the King Center, Nance honed her people skills interacting with some of the greatest names in show business.

“She has communication and customer service skills that cannot be taught,” added Bocabella. “I always know that if a need presents itself in a volunteer area, Nance will be willing to help out.”

As good as she is, Nance is only half of the Burroughs volunteer team, for husband Phil also volunteers at Viera Hospital.

Phil, a retired senior engineering manager with Harris Corporation, brings decades of corporate experience to his efforts at the Volunteer Services Office, where he has designed and developed volunteer tracking methods used by the hospital to monitor and measure the performance of its large corps of volunteers.

“His dedication to detail, his ability to forecast and sheer knowledge on the inner workings of a corporation have provided our service the opportunity to put into place best practice standards,” said Boccabella.

The couple decided to give of their time and talent to Viera Hospital after Phil underwent heart surgery at the facility.

“We wanted to give back and we thought this would be the perfect place,” said Nance.

Faith is very important to Nance and Phil, and they volunteer at not just one, but two, churches. As the wedding coordinator for Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Nance helps couples achieve the perfect wedding ceremony.

She also is part of the First Touch Team at the Church at Viera, as well as a volunteer for Wuesthoff Hospice.

During their free time, they hop on their boat to head up and down the Indian River. A couple of times a week,

Nance and Phil enjoy visits from their first granddaughter, five-month-old Parker, who lives in Orlando.
As volunteers, Nance and Phil are dreams-come-true for the staff at Viera Hospital.

“They both exemplify the spirit of giving back to their community through volunteering,” said Boccabella.

DON & NORMA CERNY – Wuesthoff Medical Center Rockledge

Even though a 2003 stroke left one of her arms paralyzed and severely limits her mobility, Norma Cerny still volunteers for Wuesthoff Medical Center Rockledge.

hospital-volunteers-cerny-580-1“Norma volunteers on Tuesday mornings at the information desk, where she answers the phone and provides patient location information to callers and visitors,” said Sandy Williams, director of volunteers and senior services for Wuesthoff Health System.

“Norma has seen many changes in the way the information desk functions and has adapted to a paperless system. She is often the first point of contact for patients and visitors.”

Joining Norma as a Wuesthoff volunteer is her husband, Don, who served our country in both Korea and Vietnam.

“Don volunteers every Tuesday as a courier, delivering equipment and supplies throughout the hospital,” added Williams.

“He also delivers medications to the nursing units from the pharmacy and takes lab specimens to the laboratory. The service that Don provides allows staff members to stay on the units attending to patients, instead of having to run their own errands.”

Norma and Don have each accumulated approximately 3,500 hours of service to Wuesthoff.

They joined the volunteer corps in 1999, not long after moving to Brevard County. The Cernys, like many other great volunteers, believe that giving back to the community brings them great rewards.

“We meet a lot of good people while helping people,” said Don.

Originally from Indiana, the Cernys also give of their time to St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Viera.

Williams can count on the Cernys, who rarely miss a shift, unless they’re cruising, a favorite pastime they enjoy with friends.

“Norma and Don are exemplary volunteers,” said Williams.

“They are a loving couple who unselfishly give their time to Wuesthoff. We are extremely grateful for their service to our organization.”

ROBERTA WESSELS – Sebastian River Medical Center

For 13 years, visitors and patients to Sebastian River Medical Center have been often greeted by the smiling face of Roberta Wessels, who, as part of the hospital’s Auxiliary, mans the front desk of the hospital several hours a week.

hospital-volunteers-wessels-poster-580-1“We help visitors and patients get square away with whatever they need,” said Wessels. “I think it is very important to make them comfortable, to calm them down and help them feel at ease.”

The Barefoot Bay resident has been part of Sebastian River Medical Center for 13 years, and her better half, husband Herman, is also in the picture as one of the genial guys who drive the golf carts that make maneuvering the hospital’s parking lot much easier for folks who are facing a procedure or visiting a loved one recuperating at the medical facility.

Wessels, a native of New York, worked for many years in the human resources department for an organization helping individuals with mental disabilities in Long Island.

At Sebastian River, she also serves as a messenger whenever needed and helps coordinate the dispatch of other messengers. The volunteers who act as messengers clock in many miles of walking.

These “legs of the hospital” are an important part of the picture, for they are the conduits that deliver paperwork, medications and the many other necessities of hospital operations throughout the vast hallways of the facility.

“Roberta is chairman of 70 volunteer messengers who facilitate discharges and perform many errands throughout the hospital,” said director of volunteer services Anthony Gabriel.

“She leads by example and provides outstanding volunteer leadership. We are so thankful for her and all our volunteers, as they are truly priceless treasures.”

Wessels is happy to lend a helping hand whenever needed, and has in the past been tasked with assisting the hospital’s busy emergency department.

Although she loves her job at Sebastian River Medical Center, Wessels also has an affinity for other worthy organizations.

She volunteers a few hours a week for Meals on Wheels to deliver nutritious meals to housebound senior citizens. For many of these individuals, Wessels is their only connection to the outside world on a given day.

When her elderly neighbors need assistance, Wessels is also glad to step in. We should all be so lucky to have such a good neighbor as Roberta Wessels.

“I like to give back to the community,” said Wessels.

SUE LOFTIN – Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital

During her husband’s three decades of disability incurred by multiple sclerosis, Sue Loftin became very familiar with the many arms of the healthcare system.

hospital-volunteers-loftin-poster-580-1The experience gave Loftin the ability to easily gauge which facilities excel in helping patients. When it came time to volunteer, Loftin chose Cape Canaveral Hospital, attesting to the hospital’s excellent customer service.

“She has been an active member of the Cape Canaveral Hospital Auxiliary since May of 2004,” said Leonne Sherr, manager of volunteer services for the hospital.

“Sue’s life has been a tapestry of grace and service to her community and her family.”

Consider, if you will, that a full-time job typically encompasses under 2,000 hours a year. In her service to Cape Canaveral Hospital, Loftin had given more than 12,000 hours of her time.

Her volunteer journey at Cape Canaveral commenced with Loftin supporting Health First’s Human Resources and Aging Institute, using the skills she had honed during a secretarial career in North Carolina.

“Since then, her wonderful talents have been shared in more than 10 different services across this facility,” said Sherr.

Until the end of September, when she finished her second two-year term, Loftin was the president of the Auxiliary. She has also served as the group’s first vice president and as its secretary.

Loftin works every day at the hospital, helping to run the Auxiliary office and greeting patients to the Emergency Room’s triage waiting room.

“We’re the first person they get to see when they’re coming into the ER,” she said.

The Merritt Island resident became acquainted with the Space Coast while visiting her son, who works for NASA.

Giving back to the community is ingrained into her soul.

“I’ve been working out in the community since I lived in North Carolina,” she said.

Loftin’s stamp is seen in the Auxiliary’s effectiveness.

“During her years with the Auxiliary, our organization has become stronger and more agile in the ever-changing world of healthcare,” added Sherr. “Sue has led this Auxiliary by exhibiting amazing dedication, southern grace and a unique sense of humor.”

DEBBIE COX – Parrish Medical Center

Some days, you can find a good chunk of Debbie Cox’s family volunteering at Parrish Medical Center.

hospital-volunteers-cox-poster-580-1Cox, vice president of Parrish’s Auxiliary, wears many volunteer hats at the medical center, including manning the evening volunteer shift, notorious for its sparsity of available manpower.

“A couple of nights ago, I had my husband, daughter and mother-in-law working the shift with me,” said the Titusville resident.

“I call them up and ask for help when not enough volunteers show up.”

The evening shift is just part of the day’s work for Cox, who is also in charge of the Auxiliary’s teen volunteers, or TAVs, who number 75, range in age from middle schoolers to college students and hail not just from the North Brevard area, but also from as far as Cocoa and Orlando.

“It’s challenging to train them and keep them motivated,” said Cox.

The teens do everything from delivering flowers to patients’ rooms to wheeling discharged patients out to their cars and manning the gift shop.

“Some can’t drive and have never held a job, so they’re not familiar with expectations and you have to work around transportation and scheduling issues,” said Cox.

One of her daughters, also a volunteer at Parrish, turned her onto the job.

“She would come home and tell us how great it was, so I decided to give it a try,” said Cox, who began volunteering four years ago and has already clocked in 5,500 hours.

The figure is impressive in its own right, but even more admirable when considering that Cox has a day job running her family’s storage and rental property business. Being busy remains the preferable mode for this mother of four.

“It’s not uncommon for me to put in a 12-hour shift at the hospital,” she said.

While her now college-age kids were growing up, Cox did the volunteer thing at their schools.

“We were busy with the Boy Scouts, the band, the swimming, you name it,” she said.

As if handling 75 teens were not enough, Cox also helped the hospital implement its new computerized management system for volunteers, and, again, enlisted family members’ willing to help in the process. With Cox, Parrish gets not just one great volunteer, but several.

“Debbie has gone above and beyond this year,” said Auxiliary president Michael VanHeusen.

FOR MORE INFORMATION or to make a reservation to attend the Central Florida Humanitarian Awards Gala call 321-323-4460 or 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com

CLICK HERE TO ORDER TICKETS

The 2016 Central Florida Humanitarians have been announced and include outstanding individuals and organizations from the medical, business, education and governmental communities. Also announced today was the honoree for the Lifetime Achievement.

The 2016 Central Florida Humanitarians have been announced and include outstanding individuals and organizations from the medical, business, education and governmental communities. Also announced today was the honoree for the Lifetime Achievement.

Recognizing Outstanding Individuals & Organizations Who Dedicate Their Time, Talent and Treasure

CENTRAL FLORIDA, USA – The 2016 Central Florida Humanitarians have been announced and include outstanding individuals and organizations from the medical, business, education and governmental communities. 

Also announced today was the honoree for the Lifetime Achievement. Information about the hospital and hospice volunteers will be released Oct. 1.

The Central Florida Humanitarian honorees will be recognized during a Gala event on Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place in Melbourne, Florida.

The Central Florida Humanitarian Awards were created seven years ago by Space Coast Daily to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that dedicate their time, talent or treasure to help people in need locally – and around the world.

cfha-medal-400

The 2016 Central Florida Humanitarians have been announced and include outstanding individuals and organizations from the medical, business, education and governmental communities. All Humanitarian alumni are presented a specially commissioned medallion.

TIME: In this category consider candidates who have selflessly and consistently devoted their time as volunteers at hospitals and nursing homes, in activities for the less fortunate and as organizers, administrators or operatives in the many other altruistic endeavors in our community.
TALENT: In this category give consideration to those who have volunteered their special talents and expertise to address specific circumstances in which the lives of those in need are improved.
TREASURE: The humanitarians in this category will include those who have generously shared their monetary good fortune and/or volunteered their time and efforts in fund raising for the advancement of a philanthropic cause.

All 2016 honorees will be featured in the Oct/Nov 2016 edition of Space Coast Daily magazine and online at SpaceCoastDaily.com.  The magazine will be available the first week of October in both print and digital editions, which will also be available on SpaceCoastDaily.com.

humanitrians-sponsors-330-1ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS SELECTED TO BE HONORED INCLUDE:

• 211 Brevard
• Advocates For Aging
• Rusty Buchanan
• Steve Bunker
• Cape Canaveral Ladies
• Stop the Bleed Team
• Junior League of South Brevard
• Space Coast Iceplex Disabled Sled Hockey
• AJ Hiers
• Sharon James
• Keep Brevard Beautiful
• Janet Marks
• Paws and Stripes College
• Port Canaveral Commission
• Col. Danny McKnight
• Rolling Readers Space Coast
• Leo Roselip
• Space Coast Health Foundation
• Space Coast Paratroopers
• Central Florida Animal Refuge
• BCSO Chief Deputy Doug Waller
• Jarvis Wash
• Dr. Carlos Woodward
• The 2016 Central Florida Humanitarian Lifetime Achievement honoree is Bernie Simpkins.

HONORING SELFLESS VOLUNTEERISM

As always, the Central Florida Humanitarian committee will also honor hospital and hospice volunteers from Parrish Medical Center, Health First Hospice, the Dr. Jey Pillai Center for Hospice Care at Wasdin Woods, VITAS, Hospice of St. Francis, Health First Cape Canaveral Hospital, Health First Viera Hospital, Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center, Health First Palm Bay Hospital, Wuesthoff Medical Center – Melbourne, Wuesthoff Medical Center – Rockledge, the VA Clinic in Viera, and Sebastian River Medical Center. 

Dr. Jim Palermo

Dr. Jim Palermo

“Over the years, our editorial team has had the distinct honor and pleasure of identifying and featuring the many members of our community who give back so much and are dedicated to reaching out and helping others, here and throughout the world, in a multitude of ways,” said Space Coast Daily Editor-In-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo.

“For the seventh consecutive year, we will once again produce the Central Florida Humanitarian Awards Gala on the first Thursday of November. This year, more than 30 deserving humanitarians will be honored during the Gala.”

The Central Florida Humanitarian Awards will be part of Space Coast Medicine Week, a comprehensive series of health and educational events produced by Space Coast Daily.

JOIN US FOR AN INSPIRATIONAL EVENING

This inspiring and compelling event is sponsored by Parrish Medical Center, SOAR, BioCellular Therapies, Brighthouse Networks, First Choice Medical Group, Clear Choice Health Care, Community Credit Union, Lake Nona Medical Arts, Brevard Geriatrics, Knudson Brain & Spine Law Injury Office, Dr. Mark Pinsky, Space Coast Daily magazine and SpaceCoastDaily.com. Each honoree or organization will be presented the Central Florida Humanitarian Crystal Globe.

“We would like to thank our long list of sponsors who support the Central Florida Humanitarian Awards and who make this wonderful event possible,” said Giles Malone, a partner with Space Coast Daily and Brevard Productions, who annually produce all the events of Space Coast Medicine Week.

COMPELLING MULTIMEDIA TRIBUTE VIDEOS & STORIES

Stay tuned to Space Coast Daily magazine and SpaceCoastDaily.com for exclusive and comprehensive multimedia coverage of each honoree as we present their compelling stories.

Tom Palermo

Tom Palermo

“Please join us on Thursday, Nov. 3 to celebrate and be inspired by these incredible individuals and groups,” said Space Coast Daily President & Publisher Tom Palermo. 

“In the meantime, please click the link below that showcases the distinguished Central Florida Humanitarian Alumni.”

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIAN ALUMNI

FOR MORE INFORMATION or to make a reservation to attend the Central Florida Humanitarian Awards Gala call 321-323-4460 or 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com

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ABOVE MAP: The 2016 Central Florida Humanitarian Awards will take place Thursday, Nov. 3 at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place, located at 200 Rialto Place in Melbourne, Florida.

They help heal with smiles and compassion. Their cheerful and positive attitude can go a long way when patients and family members are under stress. They deliver hope. They often help shape a patient’s first impression of a hospital. Meet some of Brevard’s best hospital volunteers.

They help heal with smiles and compassion. Their cheerful and positive attitude can go a long way when patients and family members are under stress. They deliver hope. They often help shape a patient’s first impression of a hospital. Meet some of Brevard’s best hospital volunteers.


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