Meet Michigan Medicine: Volunteer Services
Every Monday, Terry Gruley spends a few hours at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital brightening the day of patients and families.
She doesn’t do it as a physician, nurse, therapist or support staff member. In fact, she’s not an employee at all. Gruley is one of thousands of volunteers who donate their time and effort across the organization each day.
“I take a cart filled with books around to three intensive care units for patients and their families to read and keep,” Gruley said. “To see a patient’s eyes light up when I come into the room, it makes my day. And I think it makes their day too.”
At any given time, there are approximately 2,200 active volunteers at Michigan Medicine, both on the main medical campus and at ambulatory care sites around the region. They make a commitment of 2-4 hours per week for at least six months.
“Volunteers come from all walks of life, all parts of the world and are people of all ages,” said Pam Fogarty, one of the coordinators of Volunteer Services. “Most just want to be here for people in need and give back to the community.”
That’s certainly the case for Gruley, who began volunteering at Michigan Medicine nearly a decade ago.
“I grew up with a sister who went in and out of the hospital quite a bit,” Gruley said. “So I have a lot of empathy for families going through a health crisis — I was part of a family like that growing up.”
Gruley first started volunteering with Michigan Medicine in 2007 at the Giving Library, which offers donated books for patients to read or have read to them. It’s one of hundreds of volunteer opportunities across the organization.
Volunteers also help with wayfinding, run the registers in the Friends Gift Shop, take the art cart to patient rooms, and even help support labs and research areas.
On top of wanting to help others, many young adults volunteer at Michigan Medicine to gain exposure to health care.
“I’m a pre-med student and hope to eventually become a physician,” said Brandon Coy, a senior at U-M who volunteers once a week at University Hospital stocking shelves with supplies. His tasks take place both behind-the-scenes and in individual rooms where he can interact with patients and families.
“While I know that I will contribute to medicine as a doctor down the road, volunteering here is a way I can contribute now,” Coy said. “It may not be the most exciting work, but it’s work that must be done to make the whole health system run smoothly. It’s a nice feeling to know that I’m making a difference.”
Michigan Medicine volunteers must be at least 18 years old — or 16-17 years old if participating in the summer Teen Program. Volunteers must each attend an information session, fill out an application, go through an interview, general orientation, unit orientation and provide two references along with their health records. If chosen, they will be placed in a position based on availability and program need.
“We may not be able to change health outcomes directly, but we can improve someone’s experience here,” Gruley said. “That’s what keeps me coming back.”