[6 min read]
- Dedicated volunteers at Swedish provide support for patients and caregivers.
- Our team of volunteers includes Gabi the therapy dog, who lends a helping paw at Swedish Issaquah.
- April's National Volunteer Appreciation Week gives us an opportunity to say a big thank you to all our Swedish volunteers.
At Swedish, our volunteers are the heart of what we do. Their selflessness embodies our commitment to caring for others. We are grateful for them all and for the many ways they support Swedish. For National Volunteer Appreciation Week 2023, we spoke with two of our dedicated people who support our patients and caregivers: Meghan Kemp, who volunteers at our Swedish Ballard Breast Center
helping mammogram technicians and David Meagher, a volunteer who, with his dog Gabi, brings joy and support to our patients at Swedish Issaquah
Meghan Kemp: easing the way for Swedish Ballard caregivers
We are so fortunate to have a community that comes together to support the great work of our caregivers at Providence Swedish. One great way to support is through volunteering, as Ballard volunteer Meghan Kemp knows.
“When I am volunteering, it might not feel like I’m doing the most important tasks, but we do the little tasks that make it that much easier for caregivers to do their job well,” Meghan says. “That allows them to provide the best care they can to patients.”
Meghan (in photo at right) has been volunteering at Ballard Breast Center since June 2021. She helps patients prepare
for their exams and does whatever she can to make life
easier for our mammogram technicians. The patients, caregivers and Ballard community are big reasons Meghan chose Providence Swedish to volunteer her time at.
“This hospital is so deeply entrenched in the community at Ballard, and I think that makes it really special,” she says.
Meghan has been finishing her prerequisites at North Seattle College for diagnostic ultrasound programs and was looking for a volunteer position related to that field. One of the first places that came to mind was her home hospital at Ballard. She grew up in the area and has received care there.
When a patient comes in for a mammogram, it can be an anxious and uncomfortable experience. But Meghan says she’s seen our caregivers set women at ease in those high stress moments, which is a great thing to witness.
“Volunteering allows me to confirm that this job is what I want to do, but the people surrounding it are wonderful. Seeing the impact caregivers make on patients is profound and it’s the best part for me,” Meghan says.
When she's not volunteering, you can find Meghan working at a local Ballard tea shop, playing hockey, running or preparing for a career in healthcare. We are thankful for Meghan’s dedication to volunteering at Swedish Ballard.
David Meagher and Gabi: Lending a helping hand (and paw) at Swedish Issaquah
You can teach an old dog new tricks, and Issaquah volunteer David Meagher and his 11-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Gabi, are proof. As longtime volunteers, they have had to adjust to a changing hospital setting at Providence Swedish to visit our caregivers and patients.
“I had trained Gabi to hit the automatic door opening buttons at Providence Swedish, but now they’re motion operated. So instead of pushing, I’ve taught her to wave her paw past it,” David says.
David started doing canine therapy at Providence St. Joseph in Burbank, California and Disney Cancer Center, after his daughter expressed interest in Gabi becoming a therapy dog. Gabi is now a diabetic alert, seizure alert and response dog. David always knew Gabi was a special dog, based on her tail-wagging, kind nature and her awareness of humans around her, and unsurprisingly she and David passed their certifications with flying colors.
David Meagher and his dog, Gabi, volunteer at Swedish Issaquah.
David and his family moved from California to Washington, where his wife was working [in pathology] at Swedish. It soon became a family affair, with David and Gabi shortly making their way to volunteering at Issaquah. The pair volunteers throughout the hospital, visiting the oncology department or emergency room, as he and Gabi stop to spend time with any interested patients.
“Gabi never ceases to provide me with awe over the next thing she’s learned how to do, and every day is a chance for her and I to learn something new,” David says. “She’s like a rockstar now at Swedish.”
David volunteers four to six hours a week to greet patients and caregivers with Gabi. The patients appreciate her and the caregivers do, too. Just last year a group of nurses held a celebration for Gabi’s 10th birthday.
“Every time we walk in a room, the anxiety level just drops,” David says. “People just appreciate it so much, and they need it, you know? It’s a high stress environment, everyone needs some relief sometimes.”
Outside of the health care setting, David has also trained Gabi in hunting, dog showing and even acting. And David continues to train the next generation of medical alert dogs. Let’s put our paws together for a round of applause to thank David and Gabi for volunteering their time and the relief and happiness they bring to the patients and caregivers at Swedish Issaquah.
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