04/13/14 — Hospital recognizes those who give time

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Hospital recognizes those who give time

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 13, 2014 1:50 AM

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Outstanding volunteers for the past year at Cherry Hospital were recognized during a luncheon Monday. From left, the Rev. Thomasine Cowan and Carolyn McCoy, from Kingdom Faith Ministries, Chapel Volunteer of the Year; Norma McDonough, Edythe O. Blanton Volunteer Service Award; Vernell Grantham, Cherry Champion Award; and Luckey Welsh Jr., Cherry CEO.

Volunteers play an important role to an organization, but when it is a mental health care facility, they truly are its "champions," said Luckey Welsh Jr., CEO at Cherry Hospital.

"Mental illness is something that as you well know has a stigma throughout our nation and the world," he told the audience at the annual Volunteer of the Year Recognition Luncheon this week. "It's been said that 50 percent of Americans sometime in their lives will have an issue with mental illness."

Breaking down the statistics further, he said that in North Carolina, which has an estimated population of 10 million people, that equates to 2 million people who, in any one year, will have some diagnosis or issue with mental illness.

"I tell you this because you as volunteers recognize this," he said. "Cherry Hospital serves as a safety net, a hospital for 38 counties in eastern North Carolina."

Most patients will seek care at an emergency department, he explained. Of those, about 30 percent will be sent home with medication, a treatment plan and support from a mental health profession, while about 25 percent will be admitted to a psychiatric unit and another 10 percent will be given a hospital bed.

Those who receive care at Cherry Hospital, though, do so for one reason, he said -- "We're the best. We're the best at understanding mental illness.

"So I really applaud you, of course, for understanding that, coming to Cherry Hospital to volunteer."

Cherry Hospital has about 86 volunteers who serve in a variety of capacities, Welsh said, which adds up to more than 26,000 hours of service.

"That represents about 13 full-time people that we would have to hire to do the work you do," he said. "It would cost over one-half million dollars to do what you do."

Three awards were presented to outstanding volunteers for service over the past year, by Tanya Rollins, director of special services.

The Edythe O. Blanton Volunteer Service Award, named for Mrs. Rollins' predecessor, went to someone who became a volunteer in 1993.

"For the past 21 years she has served multiple terms as a representative of the Human Rights Committee. She has the responsibility of ensuring that patients' rights are protected and that they are treated with dignity and respect," Mrs. Rollins said. "She's always asking, 'How can I help?' She's always willing to help with special events and we know we can always count on her when we need it."

The honoree, Norma McDonough, has also been part of the Cherry Hospital Foundation board of directors since 2010 and is active in the community in such organizations as Kiwanis, Special Olympics and Guardian Ad Litem.

Recipient of the Cherry Champion Award was Vernell Grantham, who began serving in October 2010 through the N.C. Council on Aging but when her assignment ran out, asked to continue serving.

"Every Tuesday morning, she assists with special service and administration with various clerical duties," Mrs. Rollins said. "When patients have magazines to read on the ward during their leisure time, you can thank her."

Ms. Grantham has amassed a total of 1,812 hours of service, she added.

The award for Chapel Volunteer of the Year was presented to Kingdom Faith Ministries, which began assisting in the chapel program in 2012 and continues to serve in the geriatric unit on the first Wednesday night of every month.

"This ministry has touched the lives of 185 patients who thoroughly enjoy the music, singing and short devotion," Mrs. Rollins said.