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Making a Difference: An Inspiring Volunteer Story


As a longtime healthcare worker, Lovie Whitt kept every letter a patient wrote her. Due to a recent trip to the emergency department at Adventist Health and Rideout, she had the opportunity, as a patient, to write the first letter for a new ER volunteer.

“She was so sweet,” Whitt said. “It was so cold in the ER, and she brought us a warm blanket and asked if she could get me a cup of coffee.” 

Whitt met the volunteer, Jaclyn Ruiz, during a trip to the emergency department for a hand consultation. She was impressed by Ruiz’s caring personality and professionalism and gave the volunteer department a handwritten note complimenting Ruiz’s prowess.

Ruiz, a current student at Boise State University, came home for summer break and reached out to Carol Ramirez, Adventist Health and Rideout’s Administrative Director of Community Research and Mission Development, about volunteering. She started volunteering in the emergency department to get experience for her university’s radiology technician program. 

In the emergency department, Ruiz sterilizes rooms and equipment when patients are discharged. She restocks supplies for nurses and checks in on patients. She brings them things like water, blankets, and anything else they might need to be comfortable for their stay.   

Ruiz said what she likes about the volunteer experience is the fast-paced environment. Although it can be overwhelming at times, she said that she learns a lot “even by observing.” However, the most important thing for Ruiz is the patients.

“What I really want to get out of volunteering is just being comfortable with the patients,” Ruiz said. 

Whitt has worked in healthcare as a licensed psychiatric technician. At her stay in the emergency department, she said that Ruiz was “very personal.” The two had an extended conversation about the volunteer program and how Ruiz liked her experience. Whitt also complimented Ruiz on being very attentive to her needs. Ruiz came to check on her several times throughout her stay to see if she needed anything else.

“She wished me luck with my program in the future. It was really nice,” Ruiz said. “It really made my whole shift. You know, just that one little thing.”

Whitt said that having volunteers like Ruiz at the emergency department is helpful for both the patients and the nurses. Volunteers are more accessible for the patient, she said. If they need assistance or want to ask questions, the volunteers are there to help them.  

It also takes the pressure off the nurses, she said. It frees up their time and it makes the patients feel “more at ease.” 

Ruiz said that having that impact for Whitt in the emergency department made her feel excited for the future. Even when she is doing the small things, she can make someone’s day better.