LMH Health has a variety of volunteer opportunities

photo by: LMH Health

Charles Decedue is a volunteer with LMH Health.

Volunteering provides the opportunity to connect with your community and make a difference in the lives of those in need. Volunteers at LMH provide a special touch, one that can ease the stress for patients and families facing difficult and uncertain times.

Lauren Cobb, volunteer services manager, said that an ideal volunteer is someone who truly wants to help.

“The reason people give their time is very personal, but they’ve all got a mentality of service,” she said. “Volunteers want to make someone’s day better or just take the load off. They truly want to serve in whatever way they can.”

Lifelong passion

Volunteering has been a lifelong passion for Charles Decedue. He has been giving back to the community since he was in high school and living in New Orleans.

“I enjoy being in places where I can be useful and help is needed, even though I’m pushing 80,” he said.

Decedue spent the majority of his career at the University of Kansas as a researcher and administrator. He worked as the executive director of the Higuchi Biosciences Center for 18 years before becoming the chief scientific officer at CritiTech Inc.

“My biggest hobby was acting, so I started reading for Audio Reader shortly before I retired from CritiTech,” Decedue said. “About 12 years into it, I began having trouble with my voice and dropped reading but continued with audio description. Then the COVID pandemic hit and everything shut down.”

His love of theater and his desire to help collided with the advent of COVID vaccines in early 2021. Local pharmacist Jeff Sigler set up vaccine clinics at Theatre Lawrence and needed volunteers to make the process run smoothly. Decedue was ready and willing to help, working at 21 of the clinics.

When those clinics began to wane, he started to wonder what else he could do. That’s when Decedue remembered that a good friend volunteered at LMH Health after his retirement and really seemed to enjoy his experience. He decided that might be the perfect fit.

“I have familiarity with a number of large hospitals because of my education. I understood at a gut level the anxiety that comes with going into one,” he said.

Volunteers perform a variety of tasks in the Cancer Center, including cleaning treatment rooms between patients and providing transport to and from other departments. Each day provides an opportunity to serve patients facing a difficult diagnosis.

One of the main technologies Decedue had worked with during his tenure at CritiTech was an oncology drug. After seeing it from a research perspective, he was interested in volunteering at the LMH Health Cancer Center and having the chance to view it through a different lens when interacting with patients.

“You get to work with patients on a daily basis. Some of the treatments can be very long, so I bring them snacks and refreshments,” Decedue said. “Being able to visit with patients and bring a smile to their day — they really appreciate that contact.”

A community filled with volunteers

If you attended Lawrence Public Schools prior to 2006, there’s a good chance you may have been taught by Mary Chapman. She spent much of her life working as an English teacher, including stints at West Junior High, Lawrence High and Free State High School. When she retired, Chapman began looking for other ways to fill her time.

photo by: LMH Health

Mary Chapman is a volunteer with LMH Health.

“I had a friend who was the practice manager at OrthoKansas. She needed help with paperwork and I ended up working with their medical records for 11 years,” she said. “I made great friends there and got to know all the doctors and staff. They’re all great people.”

Chapman has been a volunteer at LMH Health for about three and a half years, though she took some time off during the COVID pandemic and for a knee replacement. She gives back to the community by working as a wayfinder at the West Campus, helping patients navigate the building.

“It seems like a simple formula, but when I ask someone if I can be of help and the answer is yes, that’s really gratifying,” Chapman said. “A lot of people want to be useful. I see old friends here, I’ve made new ones and it’s really a beautiful facility to be in.”

Opportunities abound at LMH Health

Volunteers at LMH Health are able to work in a number of areas throughout the health system, providing the opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people and make a difference in the community.

“We have gaps to fill in areas such as our surgery waiting room, wayfinding at both of our campuses, the Gift Shop and Mario’s Closet, as well as oncology and other clinical areas,” Cobb said. “While we don’t have as many clerical opportunities as we used to, we want to ensure our volunteers are placed in the area that’s right for them.”

Though a number of volunteers are adults, people as young as 14 can volunteer at LMH Health. Additional requirements include:

• A long-term commitment of at least three months, helping at least three to four hours each week

• Tuberculosis (TB) screening

• Proof of flu vaccine (October through April)

• Documentation of immunizations (including Hepatitis B, MMR, Tdap, Varicella and COVID)

• Background check for volunteers age 18 and older (costs $15)

“We have a number of volunteers with needs and accommodations,” Cobb said. “The mentality of service and being here to help, regardless of ability, makes for a great volunteer.”

Chapman said Lawrence is filled with terrific examples of volunteerism. She enjoys being at the West Campus and giving back to an organization that has provided her with outstanding health care.

“It’s really an act of appreciation and acknowledgement that I’ve got good health and received great care, so I want to put it to work,” she said. “I’ve had good experiences with orthopedics, physical and occupational therapy, so being in this atmosphere and being of some help is really appealing to me.”

Decedue doesn’t see a downside to volunteering at LMH Health.

“I like the idea that in Lawrence, we have a hospital of this caliber — one that punches above its weight — and that it’s a not-for-profit owned by the community,” he said. “Volunteering at LMH Health helps keep the doors open. We can make a frightening prospect be more comfortable for patients and their loved ones, and that’s just a great feeling.”

— Autumn Bishop is the marketing manager and content strategist at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Journal-World’s Health section.


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