Carol Dixon - Mission Services and Volunteer Resources

Written by Evan Duxbury

What’s your role at PHC?
As director of Mission Services and Volunteer Resources I balance providing an excellent experience to 1500-1600 volunteers with the experience they deliver to residents, patients and staff. I’m also responsible for ensuring that our organizational values continue to anchor our work.

What attracted you to Providence Health Care?
PHC’s story is quite incredible. Our founding sisters were mentally tough in the face of adversity, physically strong to handle patients and innovative enough to fund all of the construction and hospital operations. They brought with them a spirit of welcoming, which is what makes PHC unique.

That spirit was really evident during the emergence of HIV when we accepted HIV positive patients without question. Mount Saint Joseph Hospital's history of caring for disadvantaged immigrants is no different. Even when the rest of society had marginalized them, they knew they’d be welcome at MSJ. The sisters set an amazing example for the employees, and volunteers, of today.

What do volunteers do at PHC?
The most significant service is taking the time to listen. For our patients and residents, volunteers are fresh faces and new opportunities to share a story. For somebody who’s unable to leave their room, these young volunteers’ lives are very interesting, so speaking with them can be quite a highlight.

Our Flying Squad helps patients and residents access things they can’t get for themselves, like a burger from Davie Street. We also run the “Well Wishes” program, where we print out emails sent from friends and family, and bring the message to the beds.

Volunteers bring fresh faces and enthusiasm to the halls, which I think our staff appreciate. The admiration our volunteers project helps remind staff that “oh yeah, it is nice to be me.”

What does a volunteer gain from their experience at PHC?
Many volunteers have finished a degree and are looking at a career in health care, so the big value is exposure. Their duties take them through different areas of our hospitals, and we have programs that bring back former volunteers who are now working in healthcare to share their experiences. This allows them to narrow in on what interests them most.

What opportunities and challenges do you see in the next few years for the volunteer program?
The challenge has been and will continue to be trying to keep our volunteers engaged with the right opportunities. With such diverse needs and skill sets, it’s difficult to coordinate the growth of so many driven individuals.

The opportunity is to tap into our volunteers’ minds. We’re making good use of their hearts and hands, but they’re so capable, they can handle a lot more.

Click here for more about volunteering at Providence Health Care