/ Articles / Volunteers of Howard Young Medical Center recognized with WAVE Award

Volunteers of Howard Young Medical Center recognized with WAVE Award

December 10, 2019


Delirium is the most prevalent complication for hospitalized older adults and a program at Howard Young Medical Center, part of Ascension has been recognized for the vital role of the programs volunteers.

The Volunteers of Howard Young Medical Center were recently awarded a Wisconsin Award for Volunteer Excellence (WAVE) by the Partners of the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA). The WAVE Award recognizes volunteer programs whose work directly furthers the mission of the institution they serve.

The Volunteers of Howard Young were recognized in the in-service hospital program category for the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) which helps to prevent episodes of acute confusion for hospitalized patients.

HELP is an internationally coordinated model of care provided by a team of clinicians and volunteers who are specially trained to support patients over the age of 70 or anyone who may show signs of delirium after an assessment.

“Volunteers are essential to providing the additional support needed to help patients at risk remain oriented and alert throughout their hospitalization,” said Lori Butkus, RN, HELP coordinator at Howard Young Medical Center. “Volunteers provide companionship, assistance with meals, a variety of social activities, as well as simple conversation which can aide in stimulating the mind.”

Volunteers play a crucial role in the HELP program by carrying out interventions directly at the bedside. The interventions center on risk factors that elderly patients face during hospitalization. Some are universal, but others are individual to each patient and can involve vision or hearing impairment; sleep deprivation; immobility; dehydration, cognitive impairment or medication interaction.

“Since the inception of the program, delirium rates, average length of hospital stay, fall rates and readmission rates have all gone down,” said Laurie Oungst, chief administrative officer at Howard Young Medical Center.

“We are blessed with the support of our volunteers for this and many other programs and we congratulate them on this honor.”

Howard Young’s HELP volunteers include retired teachers, nurses, social workers and even high school and college students who have completed specialized training.

The WAVE Award was presented to the Volunteers of Howard Young at the Partners of WHA Annual Convention in Appleton.

Those interested in colunteering with the HELP program at Howard Young Medical Center can contact Butkus at 715-356-8305.

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