From Piano To Dogs: Banner Health Volunteers Support Medical Staff

By Christina Estes
Published: Monday, January 18, 2021 - 3:22pm
Updated: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 9:12am

woman wearing mask holding up shirt
Jenna Davis
Jeanne Ackerley began volunteering at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa in August 2018. This photo taken as she volunteered in gift shop in January 2021.

Arizona’s largest private employer is looking for volunteers to help support front line workers.

You might not consider visiting a hospital gift shop a form of respite, but plenty of Banner Health employees do.  

“They are exhausted and many of them are working 12-hour shifts or longer,” said Jeanne Ackerley, a volunteer at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa.

She said medical staff will often come into the gift shop to escape for a bit. As they browse through books, survey the stuffed animals and smell the flowers, Jeanne often provides an empathetic ear.

“I get out of it actually a sense of satisfaction that I’m able to pay kindnesses forward, to support our front line workers,” Ackerley said.

After suspending the volunteer program for several months during the pandemic, Banner is now looking for people under 65 with no underlying health conditions to help in non-patient settings. 

Jenna Davis, associate director of volunteer resources at Banner Baywood Medical Center and Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa, said piano players are always welcome in the lobby and so are therapy dogs — not just for visitors but employees, too.  

“Our staff need our therapy dogs just as much as our patients do,” Davis said. “They just light up, their faces light up with smiles and makes us feel good, makes our volunteers feel good that they’re providing a difference to our staff members.”

She said volunteers at the two Mesa locations are making reminder phone calls to people about appointments and helping onboard news employees and volunteers.

Davis said all Banner locations are accepting applications for people who can commit to at least one hundred hours of service. A minimum four-hour shift per week is expected. 

“They come to the hospital because they want to be there, they’re not there for a paycheck or to get certain accolades, they just want to help,” she said. “It’s a great thing to just sit back and see the good in the world and that’s the best part about my job is that I get to work with the good in the world each and every day.”

Banner hospital gift shop volunteer
Jenna Davis
Jeanne Ackerley volunteers at the gift shop at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa in January 2021.

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