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National Volunteer Week 2021: Celebrating our volunteers

Hands of all colours holding hearts.

Happy National Volunteer Week! Volunteers at The Ottawa Hospital have done some incredible and creative things during the COVID-19 pandemic. From designing new programs to embracing new technology, their willingness to step forward to help has been an inspiration.

In honor of National Volunteer Week 2021, we take a look at some of the ways the volunteers at The Ottawa Hospital have been making a big difference in the lives of patients, families and staff.

Volunteers get hired as COVID-19 screeners

Mike Soloski

In March 2020, and the early days of the pandemic, about 100 volunteers from The Ottawa Hospital, including Mike Soloski, were hired as COVID-19 screeners and began their job the next day. This 24/7/365 support at the entrances of the General, Civic and Riverside campuses helped ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff alike. Volunteer Geneviève Haché was featured on CTV’s Frontline Diaries series.



Volunteers run Virtual Information Desks

Ulyana Osorio (left) Maddy Keup appearing on a screen (middle) and Suzanne Lariviere (right)

More than 1,400 volunteers were asked to stay home in March 2020 as part of The Ottawa Hospital’s response to COVID-19, but that didn’t stop them from finding creative ways to support patients and visitors at the hospital. Together with the support of The Ottawa Hospital’s Audio-Visual Department, Volunteer Resources developed a new Virtual Information Desk, the first of its kind in hospitals across Canada. Denise Germain, 90, who has been volunteering at the hospital for 27 years, was among many who happily embraced video technology to help out!

Pet therapy continues…virtually!

Christine Sinclair and therapy dog Caleigh appearing on a tablet

Patients and families at The Ottawa Hospital have long adored and benefitted from the Pet Therapy Program, so in September 2020, our volunteers took pet therapy virtual. Eight volunteers, including Christine and six-year-old Irish Setter Caileigh bring safe, compassionate care to our patients using an old IV stand and a tablet.




Student volunteers share the gift of music with patients

Nina Hadzimustafic playing the piano

Patients at the Civic and Riverside campuses have been enjoying musical therapy sessions via tablet thanks to a group of generous student volunteers from the University of Ottawa. Here is hospital volunteer Nina Hadzimustafic at the piano. Soothing rhythms and calming melodies were a welcome part of their day.

Musical volunteer thanks staff with virtual piano performance

Layli Tanara sitting at her piano

Layli Tanara, hospital volunteer and 3rd year student in Biomedical Science at the University of Ottawa performed a virtual piano concert to thank staff at The Ottawa Hospital for their hard work. Thank you, Layli!

Volunteers help inside The Ottawa Hospital’s COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

David (left) and Mursalin

As the province’s vaccine rollout gathers momentum, volunteers answered the call to help thousands of people identified in Phase 1 move through The Ottawa Hospital’s Vaccination Clinic safely and efficiently. More than 200 volunteers are organized into four-hour shifts to provide critical support to the clinic as greeters for 12 hours per day, seven days per week. Since January, Volunteer Resources has onboarded 150 new volunteers thanks to referrals from hospital staff and volunteers, and through local health sciences programs.

Volunteers help in so many ways!

In addition to the projects mentioned above, volunteers have been designing virtual co-op programs, making courtesy calls to patients, supporting the Department of Patient Relations, leading education sessions about the Essential Care Partner Program, performing wellness check-in calls, onboarding new volunteers for the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic and more. Together, their contributions represent more than 20,000 volunteer hours since the pandemic began.

We look forward to welcoming back our volunteers when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we proudly celebrate National Volunteer Week and thank them for everything they do.


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