With thanks: Aberdeen Hospital volunteer Jane Marshall provides friendly face, helping hand for patients and families

NSHA volunteer Jane Marshall at Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow.
NSHA volunteer Jane Marshall at Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow

If you walk into Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow on a Thursday morning, you’re sure to see a smiling Jane Marshall ready to point you in the right direction.

Marshall is one of 7,000 volunteers who selflessly give their time and energy to help Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) make patients and our province healthier.

For the past 13 years, she has been a friendly face and provided a helping hand on the medical day, oncology and day surgery units. Most recently, the 66-year-old retiree has been working at the information desk just inside the New Glasgow hospital’s main entrance.

“We try to have someone at the door, mostly in the mornings, because that seems to be the busiest time,” she said from her McLellans Brook home. “We try to have someone there to say ‘good morning’ … and make (patients) comfortable.”

For Marshall, helping patients and their families feel a bit better in an often tense environment is what her volunteer gig is all about.

“The worst thing is when you’re sitting in the hospital, you know you’re going to be waiting and then you start thinking,” she said. “(You hear) that little voice in your head that makes you nervous.”

That’s why she tries her best to relieve the stress, by acknowledging and chatting with patients, telling them ‘don’t worry, I know you’re here, your turn is coming.’ ”

“Most of the time, that’s all a person wants,” Marshall said. “I always felt that was my job; to make sure you are comfortable there; you’re not forgotten.”

But Marshall’s duties don’t end with greeting and talking to people. From fetching wheelchairs to taking lost patients to the emergency department at the other end of the hospital, Marshall and her fellow volunteers help take care of countless odds and ends that staff members just don’t have time to do.

For instance, while working in the medical day, where patients “would come to have stitches removed, or a dressing changed, or a blood transfusion,” she considered herself a bit of “a gopher, more or less.”

“You changed the stretchers after a person’s been on it, or you fetch a cup of tea or juice, or run some papers for the nurses down to medical records, that sort of thing.”
In the oncology unit, she would often “bring a blanket for the patient” and in the day surgery unit, she would “take their paper work, hang their coats,” always providing “a friendly face that allows the nurses to sit and do their paper work and the important things that nurses have to do.”

Marshall meets plenty of friendly folks herself while at the hospital, which keeps her coming back each and every week.

“You meet all sorts of nice people,” she said. “I know it’s cliché to say, but you really do get more out of it than you put in.”

That’s why she urges others to give hospital volunteerism a try.

 “To see somebody relax and take a breath and say, ‘ok, thanks a lot, you helped … it makes you feel so good,” Marshall said.

“If you have time, try to help somebody else,” she added. “The smallest little thing and you’re going to help somebody.”

Thank you, Jane, for all that you do.

To learn how to volunteer for NSHA, please visit www. www.nshealth.ca/volunteer.