By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – During a time when nurses need the most help completing their tasks, one Denver hospital is revamping its programs to give nurses a hand from volunteers.

“It’s so energizing to be here because the nurses work so hard, and I feel like I can really make a difference,” said Dorty Winkler, a volunteer at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s hospital. “They are so professional. They are always a nurse. It’s so motivating to be able to help them.”

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When the pandemic began, the hospital shut down its volunteer program which was about 400 people strong at the time. Without volunteers and many patients not being allowed to have guests, even more tasks fell onto nurses.

“Things like getting the patients water or heating up meals for them, doing laundry all these things you don’t really think about,” said Molly Zaslow, the Clinical Nurse Coordinator at P/SL.

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About 75 volunteers have restarted the program. During the year-long downtime, Rev. Michael Guthrie started thinking about how volunteers could fill a bigger role.

(credit: CBS)

“They do non-nursing things so we make that very clear delineation for what they do. It’s really to help make the patients stay more comfortable and also allow (nurses) to be more responsive because our nurses, as is evident, are very busy and doing a lot of things,” Guthrie, the Chaplain and Volunteer Coordinator at P/SL, said.

The program has only been running for a few weeks, but already nurses like Zaslow have seen an impact.

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“When you’re having a busy day, you know when they’re coming and you know they’ll be ready to help. They’re excited to be here,” she said. “It’s just a nice support for us, in addition, to actually helping the patients a ton.”

Jeff Todd