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New Ulm Medical Center

Volunteers a vital part of patient experience at NUMC

A medical facility such as New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) is complex and involves many different staff and providers coming together for the benefit of the patient. Another important component of the patient care experience is those who never get paid for their good deeds: volunteers.

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Betty Thorson is a volunteer in the Coffee Shop near the hospital entrance of the New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC). She has volunteered at NUMC since she retired 15 years ago and is one of 112 volunteers who work in multiple areas within the facility.

NUMC has 112 volunteers who work in multiple areas within the facility, such as:

  • hospital front desk
  • clinic front desk
  • coffee/gift shop
  • Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute
  • Virginia Piper Cancer Institute
  • med/surg department (inpatient unit)
  • clerical (as needed)

The reasons the volunteers have for donating their time and talent are as varied as the volunteers themselves.

Betty Thorson has volunteered since she retired 15 years ago. She’s worked multiple areas but she is found primarily in the coffee/gift shop near the hospital entrance.

“It was always my dream to be able to do what I love to do without expecting a paycheck,” she said. “This is my way of being around people every day without being part of a big crowd. Visiting with the people who come through is my favorite part of volunteering.”

She added, “The coffee shop is a great place to volunteer.”

Jim Hogen is another retiree who has been at NUMC in the year and a half since he retired. Volunteerism came naturally for the former 3M employee.

“I volunteer for other things as well and volunteering came with the territory in my job,” Hogen said. “3M always encouraged volunteering among their employees.”

Hogen spends his volunteer hours at the hospital front desk.

“I’m used to being around people. I enjoy the people and the appreciation,” he said. “Whatever you are doing, people turn around and smile and say ‘thank you.’ Whether it’s staff or patients.”

Hogen said he also appreciates the flexibility for volunteers at NUMC in terms of scheduling.

Bob Gruenhagen also started volunteering at NUMC after retirement about a year ago. He spends his time greeting patients at the clinic front entry.

“I wanted to do something I thought would be worthwhile and fill a need,” he said. “The clinic has always been good to my family and me. I felt like this would be a way of giving back.”

Giving back is its own reward, Gruenhagen said.

“When you see how appreciative people are for the help of getting directions or helping them to the door, it really means a lot,” he said.

NUMC is always looking for additional volunteers, said Volunteer Coordinator Missy Dreckman. The process to become a NUMC volunteer is fairly simple:

  • apply for a volunteer position
  • complete a background study
  • be cleared through NUMC Employee Health (making sure all vaccinations are up to date)
  • complete a three-hour facility orientation

“We try to find just the right fit for our volunteers, to match them with the job that they will enjoy most,” Dreckman said. Volunteers also receive department-specific training and orientation. She noted that volunteers are also held to the same confidentiality requirements as NUMC staff and physicians.

To find out more about volunteering at NUMC, call Dreckman at 507-217-5111.