As a dedicated Brant Community Healthcare System volunteer, David Kirk is not about to let the coronavirus pandemic slow him.
“COVID-19 has presented a few obstacles, but following the necessary safety precautions means things are working out fine,” he said.
A former Grand Erie District School Board educator, Kirk served primarily as a principal in elementary schools in Paris, St. George, Brantford and Simcoe.
Since retiring nearly 20 years ago, he has kept busy. He volunteered with the local Habitat for Humanity, where he is past-president. He was a senior elder at Farringdon Church and a member of the Mount Pleasant Optimist Club. And he helps raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society and Diabetes Canada.
He was approached about becoming a volunteer at BCHS, which operates Brantford General Hospital and The Willett urgent-care centre in Paris.
“At the time, the new D-Wing was opening at Brantford General Hospital,” said Kirk. “I completed volunteer orientation and started my role inside D-Wing greeting patients and visitors, and helping them get to where they needed to be. I remember chuckling to myself because everything was brand new – in the end it all worked out.”
Over the years, Kirk accepted more responsibilities as a volunteer, assisting in the BGH emergency department and at The Willett.
When COVID-19 arrived, one of many changes meant volunteers were not allowed at BCHS sites.
“Suddenly, I was at home,” Kirk said. “My wife, Cyndy, and I read and walked each day ….”
Except for the emergency department, volunteers began returning to BGH and The Willett in mid-August.
Kirk is now helping patients at the Willett.
“Believe me, volunteers have been welcomed back with open arms,” he said. “The doctors, nurses, clerks and everyone have big smiles and warm welcomes for us.”
Kirk also serves as a member of a team, which is working on plans for an expanded emergency department at BGH.
Kari Astles, BCHS senior co-ordinator of volunteer engagement, said a risk assessment was conducted in each area where volunteers assist and a four-stage plan was implemented.
“Safety is our top priority and volunteers are trained in the proper use of personal protection equipment,” she said. “Approximately 50 per cent of our volunteers are back and we hear regularly from others also eager to return.”
Kirk said he is thrilled to be back.
“Volunteers are part of the hospital family.”
Hospital Insider is written by Gary Chalk for the Brant Community Healthcare System.