Need for volunteers to help hospice care patients greater than ever

Each and every Wednesday, volunteer Sheila Johnson wears many hats inside Brooklyn Park's J.A. Wedum Residential Hospice.

"I put this upon myself. No one ever asked me to do it, and I do it with love, because I love doing it," Sheila told FOX 9. "I kind of pretend this is my house when I get here. I do some laundry, I make some coffee, I water all the plants."

But Sheila’s most important work may lie in the relationships she cultivates with residents living out their final days under hospice care.

"Believe it or not you get a lot more out than what you’re giving," Sheila said.

However, going into 2023, Allina Health volunteer services lead Karen Naus has a problem on her hands: "The need is expansive, and the roles are pretty expansive too," Naus explained.

After the pandemic forced volunteers to leave buildings across the Allina Health system, only about half of them have returned to their roles; leaving a gap of hundreds of volunteers.

"So our schedule [has] a lot of empty days," Sheila said. "Nobody’s here."

"It is big picture across all of healthcare right now, just that need for support," Karen added.

Volunteering consists of at least a one-year commitment, but week-to-week that commitment can be as small as just one to four hours. The effort goes a long way inside hospice centers and homes, because it allows staff to focus less on the "busy work," and more on each patient’s needs in the final days of their lives.

"If you have an open heart, this is something you can do," Karen finished.

Click here if you would like to become a hospice volunteer or call Allina’s Hospice volunteer prospect line at 612-262-7108.