At Haines City hospital, medical professionals are on staff, but volunteers are definitely needed as well.

Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center has professionals on staff and cover your health care needs, but the hospital still relies on volunteers to help out as well. (Photo by Steve Schwart).

HAINES CITY – It may sound like the last field that would seek volunteers to help carry the workload.
Health care, after all, is an industry that requires highly skilled professionals who can meet the critical needs of patients, often in emergency situations.
But as it turns out, Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center has relied on volunteers from day one more than four decades ago. Even today, the hospital is actively recruiting more people to volunteer their services at the growing medical facility off U.S. 27.
“Since we’ve been here, we’ve had an active auxiliary,” said Linda K. Vendl, marketing manager for the hospital. “We use them in a variety of roles, so it’s fulfilling for them and it serves a great purpose for us — and our patients.”
Heart of Florida hospital, located at 40100 U.S. 27, is once again calling out for volunteers who can join its Auxiliary department. As Vendl noted, the Auxiliary department has a number of volunteer opportunities available right now. Area residents can provide as little as four hours a week as Auxilians. And their contributions, Vendl said, can be invaluable.
“It makes a difference in people’s lives,” Vendl said.
Volunteers are needed to provide support for the hospital’s patients and their families, from providing information to people coming to the hospital, to helping out in the Gift Shop.
“It’s really a give back to the community,” said Judy Mettinger, president of the Heart of Florida Auxiliary. “There are a lot of different opportunities here — doing the courtesy cards, working in the Gift Shop, doing escort work, being a receptionist, being a radiology attendant. That’s really what we’re looking for, people who want to give back to the community.”
The department also wants to make it easy for those interested in volunteering, she added.
“We have flexible schedules,” Mettinger said. “And there are flexible hours. Generally speaking, they work a four hour shift, and it depends on the area you want to work in. There are different training opportunities with us. We have classes for them. It’s really a very simple process, but it’s finding the right fit – that’s the important part.”
Auxilians, Vendl said, are welcomed in a number of areas to help enhance the hospital’s standards of care.
Historically, Auxiliary members have often worked to promote hospitals through increased community awareness efforts. That’s included organizing education programs and launching fundraising initiatives to fund new initiatives. Auxilians also organize large and small community events, sponsors lectures or seminars, and write articles about the hospitals they represent.
At Heart of Florida, Vendl said, Auxiliary members have a unique opportunity to give back to their community, while also enjoying some special benefits.
Those benefits include free meals in the hospital’s cafeteria while they’re on duty, and the ability to attend ongoing educational programs sponsored by Heart of Florida, as well as to attend Auxiliary-sponsored events.
They also receive discounts in the Heart of Florida Gift Shop, and, Vendl noted, have an opportunity to get out and meet new people.
This has been a part of the fast-growing hospital’s mission for decades — and has been the case, Vendl said, since Heart of Florida was first constructed in 1966.
“In 1964, Dr. David Green donated his clinic and property to the Heart of Florida Hospital Association, and then the Fund raised money to get the hosptial built,” Vendl said. “The hospital’s auxiliary was charted in 1966, the same time as the hospital was dedicated on March 27, 1966, so it’s been around for a long time.”
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and must complete an application and orientation prior to being matched with their area of interest, Vendl said.
To learn more about becoming a Heart of Florida Auxilian, call 863-422-4971, Ext. 4271, or log on to HeartofFlorida.com.

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