Calling all nurses
Published 9:20 pm Thursday, June 18, 2015
Western Tidewater Free Clinic needs volunteer nurses so it can continue fulfilling its vital mission, says its director of clinical services.
Pamela Witt said the nonprofit that provides medical clinics, dental clinics, health screenings and much more to those who otherwise may go without, has recently lost a number of nursing volunteers.
“Some went back to school. Some have sick people to take care of. … They’ve left for a variety of reasons,” she said.
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Volunteer nurses are the “lifeblood of the clinic,” Witt said. “Without them, we don’t have a staff large enough to perform all the functions.”
The clinic could use about 20 volunteer nurses, Witt said, but the final number would depend on how much time those who sign up could give.
“We have some that don’t work or are retired,” she said. “We have a couple that come twice a week, some once a week, some once or twice a month. The volunteers are critical to operations at our clinic.”
New recruits, she said, are required to complete a six-hour class to learn the computerized medical records system. The online training can be completed at home, she said.
Recruits also attend an orientation, fill out an application and sign some paperwork.
Their first time at the clinic, Witt said, volunteers are shadowed to ensure they understand their role; and the next time they work with a more-seasoned volunteer.
“We do 10 blood tests on site, so they have to learn to use the machine,” she said.
The clinic needs triage, discharge and follow-up nurses as well as nursing preceptors for day and evening clinics.
Witt said they would take nurses straight out of nursing school. “They have to have training with their school,” she said. “We would work with them one-on-one to be confident they are competent.”
It’s the first time in its history that the clinic hasn’t been getting enough new volunteers to replace those who are leaving, Witt said, adding, “We can’t do it without them.”
“The clinic is for the benefit of our community, and without community partners, we are not able to fulfill our mission,” she said.
The clinic turns 8 on Sunday, said Executive Director Miriam Beiler, and it grew every year until 2013, when the client base leveled off.
“Now we expect to have another growth surge,” she said. “We really couldn’t take care of the number of people we do without our volunteers and the support of our community.
“We have volunteers here every day. We are very appreciative of everything that they do for us.”
For more information, visit www.wtfreeclinic.org.