Portage Health and Hospice needs volunteers

Daily Mining Gazette/Kali Katerberg In need of more volunteers, Portage Health and Hospice, pictured here, is hosting a training session for anyone interested in learning more on Dec. 16. While the hospice’s location is part of the UP Health-Portage hospital campus, the meeting place for the Dec. 16 training session is at 821 West Water Street in Hancock.  

HOUGHTON — Hospice volunteers provide comfort and companionship for families in need, and play a crucial part in keeping Portage Health and Hospice running smoothly.

“A lot of people volunteer for hospice because they’ve had a positive experience with hospice,” said Volunteer and Bereavement Coordinator Brian Foreman. “Once they’ve progressed in their grief process they want to give back.”

Foreman is ideally looking to add eight to 10 new volunteers who would be able to give a few hours a week.

On Dec. 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the hospice will hold a training session for interested volunteers.

Volunteers can serve in a variety of roles, Foreman said. Direct patient care volunteers spend time with patients and families, listening and helping the patient with activities like reading and crafts.

Bereavement volunteers help the families by providing support in the form of visits and letters.

There are also opportunities for clerical assistance and special projects. These volunteers don’t serve in patient care but help everything run smoothly and plan special projects and surprises.

Volunteer work is essential for the hospice’s function as Medicare requires certified hospices have volunteers perform at least five percent of the patient care.

Part of the process requires training classes for volunteers, all of which are free.

For the safety of patients, criminal background checks, reference checks are necessary as well a tuberculosis testing and fingerprinting. These measures also cost volunteers nothing and occur after the training.

The training itself will help volunteers know what to expect and teach them the skills needed to provide end-of-life care.

The hospice is looking for volunteers with compassion and commitment, Foreman said.

“It gives the family of those starting to grieve their loved ones. It gives them a break, even if it’s just for them to run out, get a cup of coffee or pay a bill. … They can take care of other things without feeling guilty, because they know they’re cared for,” Foreman said.

Anyone interested in volunteering can call 483-1160. For those on the fence, the training is free and requires no commitment.