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Speaking from the heart

Volunteer Voice - Fall 2012

Volunteer patient advocates and floor hosts enjoy their roles

Related story:
A toast to the hosts

Don Lehman

Don Lehman is a new floor host this year. After retiring from a corporate job that took him all over the world, he played a lot of golf and also became heavily involved with the United Way.

“I kept feeling a tapping on my shoulder to do more,” Lehman explained. “When I walked in the doors of MD Anderson to volunteer, I knew this was my calling.

“My job as a floor host is so rewarding. I’m on P5 working with gastro patients. This is my first experience with direct patient care, but I think my corporate background helps. I can find a commonality with almost anyone and when I look at the patient census, I’m thinking about how to make a connection with those I will visit.

“Some days are more difficult than others, but friendly conversation and a smile always go a long way.”

Lana Hadlock, a former caregiver for her husband, has been a patient advocate on P7 since 2011.

Lana Hadlock (left) and Joan Cox

“What I love about being a patient advocate is that I feel like I’m getting something done,” she says. “I’m doing something positive and the people are so great to work with.

“Whether it’s a simple problem like a television that isn’t working correctly, or a thermostat or bed that needs adjustment, it’s an add-on pleasure to accomplish a task and solve an issue for a patient.”

Joan Cox has been a dedicated volunteer, working her way to a patient advocate position since 2000.

“Many people are from out of town and don’t know anyone at 
MD Anderson,” she says. “You’re a friendly face with time to listen. Clinical staff members are on a schedule, but my volunteer position allows me to spend an entire morning with one person.

“The nurses on the floor where I work know me and will often request that I visit a particular patient. They might ask if I can go to a specific room where a patient has just been diagnosed. ‘They’re having a hard time – they have no one.’ My answer is always yes.”

Dottie Campbell

Dottie Campbell, one of the original patient advocate volunteers, is still volunteering after 20 years. On a weekly basis, she enjoys visiting lymphoma patients on G11 and G15.

When asked about her dedication to her volunteer position, she explains, “Being a patient advocate lets the patient have someone to talk to who can smooth things out. This makes all the difference to the patient and I love it. I’ve been able to make a difference to patients from all over the world. It’s given me an outlook on life that I
didn’t have before.

“This institution has changed so much since I became a patient advocate 20 years ago, but the patients won’t see any difference in the friendliness, caring and personal attention they receive from volunteers. If anything, it’s even better!”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center