Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Volunteer finds a way to make a difference

Beth Christensen says working at a hospital is something she’s long dreamed of doing.

“I love helping people and serving people,” she says. “My goal is to help the hospital become a better place for patients, doctors, nurses – everyone who comes here.”

Volunteer coordinator Pat Long says that desire to help is one of the first things everyone sees about Beth – that and her contagious smile. Beth says she wants those things to be noticed before people notice that she is deaf and has cerebral palsy.

In the past, Pat had worked closely with the deaf community in Springfield and as soon as she met Beth, she knew she wanted to find a place for her to volunteer.

“She believes in the hospital and it’s important for volunteers to believe in what we do,” Pat says. Pat saw Health Information Management director Robin Gann on the shuttle one morning and mentioned Beth. Robin set her up with an interview and she was a perfect fit.

Since last February, Beth has been lending her talents as a volunteer in HIM, filing charts and double-checking information as it’s entered into the system. She has a good eye for detail and a lot of experience in office settings, so the work comes naturally for her.

“Paid or not, I love to help people and helping the hospital,” she says. “This hospital is wonderful and awesome.”

Her desire to work in health care evolved from a painful chapter in her life. Growing up, she saw the inside of a hospital more than she would have liked. Her father, who suffered from hemophilia, was in and out of hospitals for years before he passed away in 1994.

“For a long time, I didn’t like going to hospitals because of my grief,” she says. “Now, after many years, I’ve accepted it. Hospitals are wonderful places, not horrible places. They save people’s lives. These are places where God is here to help people and care for people. And my smile can bring joy. That’s what I believe.”

Now, with some experience inside the hospital setting, Beth says she hopes to work toward an employed position at CoxHealth, ideally in Health Information Management.

“There are such nice, wonderful people here, working together as a team,” she says. “I believe in teamwork.

“I believe disabilities shouldn’t be barriers for working anywhere. I don’t allow it to bother me. I keep a positive attitude, smiling and happy, no matter what I do. I never say ‘I can’t,’ I say, ‘Yes I can.’”