The Red Cross health equipment loan program in Prince Rupert is calling out for more volunteers. (File photo)

Demand is up 20 per cent at the health equipment loan depot in Rupert

Volunteer base for the Red Cross program hasn’t grown to meet the demand

In the past five years, the health equipment loan program in Prince Rupert has seen increasing demand and yet a decline in volunteers.

Sandra Sawtell, coordinator for client services of the health equipment loan program, is at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital on Wednesday, July 11, in the hopes of introducing the initiative to more prospective volunteers.

The depot has been at the hospital for at least 30 years, Sawtell said. While demand has grown 20 per cent in the past five years, the volunteer base has dwindled to four individuals. The health equipment depot, based in the hospital, is only open Thursdays.

“The goal is to increase those hours to get more volunteers to serve more people in the community,” Sawtell said.

“It’s a very valuable community service. Volunteers work with the health care providers out of our health care site, and they don’t need experience. Full training is provided for by Red Cross.”

The program has a couple long-term volunteers, including Gerda Kouwenhoven, who has dedicated her time at the loan facility for 25 years, and Josie Mackey who started volunteering in 2003 after her retirement.

Volunteers loan equipment on a short-term basis to patients and health providers, and follow up with the patients to have the equipment returned. They also ask for donations, and perform other office duties.

Ideally, Sawtell would like to see another four volunteers sign up to be able to open the depot for another day in the week.

People can sign up online and get more information by coming to the open house on Wednesday, July 11 from 2 p.m.-3 p.m.

“It’s satisfying work to do. Patients are always happy to receive the equipment when they’re going through a difficult time,” Sawtell said. “Without our volunteers this service wouldn’t be possible.”

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