The construction is still well underway at the Sturgeon Community Hospital. The fences are up, hardhats are as popular as stethoscopes and the main entrance is still barricaded off by a maze of plywood and posters, directing staff, patients and visitors around the maze.
Jackie White and Betty-Lynn Zukewich, however, already have their sights set two months into the future. That’s when they expect to be able to move the SHAVA Gift Shop into its new space and they can’t wait to get out of the current location in the basement in a former storage room near the cafeteria.
“It’s an absolute cubbyhole,” said White, the president of the Sturgeon Hospital Auxiliary Volunteer Association.
If any two people know the vital role that volunteers play at the facility, it’s them.
The store – a long-time fixture and landmark for anyone needing to pick up that last minute teddy bear, vase of flowers or magazine – was relegated to its current spot when construction began four years ago.
White and Zukewich, co-ordinator of volunteer resources at the hospital, have seen first hand how tough it has been for the crew. The volunteer roster has been decimated as many have taken leaves of absence until construction is done, and spirits are low.
“It’s been depleted quite a lot,” White explained. “Morale has also been depleted.”
Gift shop sales are also down at least 50 per cent. That translates into lower than normal donations back to the hospital so that it can purchase equipment or other things that it usually wouldn’t be able to afford.
Still, they have their sights set on the future. The new store is expected to be close to twice the size of the original one, and White and Zukewich hope to be open longer hours including weekends.
“It sure would be nice to have at least 50 people. That would be a great number,” White stated.
With that, they have put out a call for registrations since the process often takes a few weeks.
Zukewich asks anyone with even a few hours to spare every few weeks to call her at 780-418-7375.
She said that volunteers must be at least 16 years old, can perform cash handling transactions, and have a clean police check.
“We do screening,” she said. “We do ask for references. We do provide a baseline screening.”
She added that it’s a great way for high school students to obtain volunteer hours and gain valuable insight into the health care system. New volunteers will be put on shifts with experienced ones as well, just to make sure that everyone is comfortable with their duties.