|Beatrice Myers has served 16,464 hours as a Medical Center volunteer.|
Every Tuesday, Catherine Washington, RN, visits the geriatrics unit on the fifth floor of the Medical Center. The 92-year-old has a bum knee from a fall six years ago and now walks with a limp. But, she still makes sure she talks with every patient in the unit to see how each is doing.
Washington is the oldest volunteer at the Medical Center and began volunteering in 1996. She works in the Volunteer Services Department with Beatrice Myers, 89, who has served the most hours — 16,464 — of any volunteer at the Medical Center.
Washington offers advice to the nursing staff and chats with patients in the geriatrics unit. She said she volunteers because she wants to continue to use her nursing skills.
“God has been so good to me in my accomplishments,” said Washington, who volunteers about one day each week and has served more than 2,340 hours. “I have been so blessed. I wanted to give something back.”
Washington is retired and is proud to have been, she said, the first African-American surgical nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in 1945. “That was manna from heaven,” Washington said of integrating the nursing surgery staff.
Myers’ small frame and muffled voice belie a strong, independent woman. She is a cancer survivor and still drives. Myers has been a volunteer since she retired in 1989 from the Medical Center where she administered supplies to medical staff.
“I love the people here,” she said. “They have treated me so nicely that I didn’t want to leave.”
Myers delivered mail to patients until 2001 when she developed throat cancer. After undergoing seven weeks of chemotherapy and radiation, Myers returned to volunteering where she now puts together informational packets for patients who undergo outpatient procedures.
“Just because I’m older doesn’t mean I can’t do anything,” Myers said.
Myers is considered the gatekeeper in the volunteer services office, said Sherry Iversen, manager of volunteer services. She helps new volunteers learn the ropes and began a birthday club where she makes sure that everyone receives a card for his or her birthday.
Both Myers and Washington are valued for their knowledge of volunteer services and the Medical Center. “Volunteers play an important role in healing and caring for our patients and helping their families,” Iversen said. “Both Beatrice and Catherine bring a sense of wisdom to our staff and have contributed immensely to the Medical Center’s mission. They are an example for other volunteers as well as our staff.”