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Volunteer Sarah Aly wins Human Touch Award

Sarah Ally

Volunteer Sarah Aly won the Human Touch Award

Sarah Aly has made coming to The Ottawa Hospital a top priority for three years. The second-year university student even rearranged her class schedule to accommodate visits to the hemodialysis unit. Sarah is one of more than 1,400 people who volunteer at The Ottawa Hospital.

“I want to be with patients,” said Sarah, who is studying Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa. “I have formed strong bonds with the patients I see regularly at the hospital. If I can make their lives just a little bit easier by bringing them a blanket, getting them a drink of water, or just talking to them about life, then I have done my job.”

Sarah’s dedication to the patients she works with was noticed by the biomedical technicians who worked in the area. They told her one day that they were going to nominate her for a Human Touch Award.

Sarah Aly (left) felt a special bond with many of the patients she visited, including Rosemarie Grant (right).

She thought it was a joke.

A few months later, she found out that she was going to receive the award.

The Human Touch Awards, organized by Cancer Care Ontario, recognize exemplary and compassionate patient care by people who work or volunteer in cancer and kidney-care systems. The awards are given to volunteers who:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to care through exceptional volunteer work that enhances the quality of life and/or access to care for patients.
  • Work to improve the patient experience at any stage in their care by demonstrating creativity and innovation in their volunteer contributions, beyond what is expected of volunteers in their organization.
  • Have a meaningful impact on the lives of patients and/or the health-care professionals who treat them.

Volunteers at The Ottawa Hospital play a critical role in patient care. While they help with important tasks like making sure patients are comfortable or helping them locate certain areas of the hospital, Sarah finds the most value in the connections that she makes with patients.

“Sometimes the most important thing I can do for a patient is just talk to them about their life,” she said.

“They confide in you, and you just have to listen. You never know what they’re going through. The least you can do is offer a comforting ear, and that can make all the difference.”

Because she works in the hemodialysis area, which certain patients visit regularly, Sarah sees some of the same patients on almost every shift. She has built such strong connections with them that she even comes in on her days off just to say hello.

When asked if she wants to go into a career in medicine, Sarah is open to the idea, but she is also excited to see what the future holds regardless of her career path.

One thing is for sure: if she does decide on a career in health care, her patients will be in very good hands.

Want to volunteer at The Ottawa Hospital like Sarah? Visit the Career and Volunteer Opportunities page.


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