TMC’s Longest-Running Volunteer Makes a Pitch for Volunteer Fair Friday

Norma Fletcher has been helping patients find their way – and sometimes a little peace – for 44 years at Tucson Medical Center.

As TMC gears up to host its volunteer recruitment fair this Friday, May 11, the hospital’s longest-running volunteer said she has remained involved all these years because she wants to help people and she likes making a difference.

Fletcher came to the hospital after her children went away to school and she found herself looking for a way to fill those extra hours. “I could only clean the house so many times,” she said, adding a friend, who was doing clerical work at TMC, encouraged her to volunteer.

Back then, TMC was far smaller, she said. In the interim, the hospital has grown and the volunteer function has become far more robust, she said, adding she’s had a chance to serve throughout the hospital. She loved the babies in the labor and delivery unit. She enjoyed helping people in the gastrointestinal lab as they surfaced from anesthesia. She helped candy stripers get organized. She spent 18 years staffing the surgery lobby.

“I felt like I was really doing something important,” she said, recounting the story of one man who was crying and pacing inconsolably as his wife underwent gall bladder surgery. “I asked if he would sit and talk with me for a while,” she said, recalling that he was convinced his wife would take weeks of intensive recovery in the hospital .She went home without a hitch – just as Fletcher assured him she would.

Now Fletcher staffs the information desk at the busy northeast entrance one morning a week, where hers is often the first smile people see as they enter the hospital.

Fletcher said an upside of volunteering is that she’s made a number of close friends over the years.

“I think if anyone is interested in volunteering, I’d encourage them to do it, because it helps the community,” she said. “And what they’ll find is they get more out of it than they put into it.”

Jennifer Donovan, who has been a volunteer for four months, credits Fletcher with being “an excellent teacher and mentor” as she herself learns the ropes.

Donovan, too, encouraged prospective volunteers to give it a try. “What makes it all worth it is the feeling that you’re giving back to other people and that you’re helping in some way.”

Hope Thomas, the director of volunteer services and community programs, said the hospital’s 400 volunteers play key roles in the hospital. There are opportunities in patient care services, the information desk, administrative support and in senior services. There is a need for bilingual volunteers to help at the entrances as well, she said.

TMC wants to match volunteers with positions that fit their personal needs and interests, Thomas said.  “We’ve got a spot for everyone.”

The recruitment fair on Friday runs from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Fireplace Room in the Farness Patio Building, right at the entrance to TMC at Beverly Boulevard and Grant Road. For more information, call 324-5355.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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