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Volunteer program turning the wheels at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital

BOLINGBROOK – Residents are lining up to volunteer at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital.

Following a June orientation, the Bolingbrook hospital added 50 new members to its volunteer program, which currently staffs 213 teens, college students, professionals and seniors who alternate two- and four-hour shifts 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

The dependence upon volunteers yields continual program growth and expansion, according to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital Program Manager for Service Excellence and Volunteer Services Danielle Muhlenbeck, who added that there is even a wait list to come aboard as a volunteer.

An Adventist employee of four years, Muhlenbeck took over the volunteer services program in June, immediately making an effort to increase orientation frequency and bolster the program.

"Right now we have 213 volunteers, but the goal is to host more volunteer orientations to get people into the program quicker," Muhlenbeck said. "The volunteers are essential to hospital operations and perform so many different roles in a variety of departments."

The volunteers work in 21 departments, at the emergency room front desk to the hospitality department, medical surgical units and the mail room, fulfilling duties that include answering telephones, greeting and escorting patients, filing for departments and handling the book cart.

No stranger to performing a wide range of hospital tasks, retired Bolingbrook resident and current volunteer Sid Cudebec has been with Adventist Midwest Hospital group even before the Bolingbrook hospital opened its doors in 2008.

Cudebec, 72, began working at the Tallgrass Corporate Center in Bolingbrook in 2007. The former Krax Air purchasing and inventory control manager explains that something "stuck" and he fell in love with helping others.

"Volunteering at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital is my way of giving back to the community," Cudebec said. "I have been blessed with good health and a healthy family. When I retired, I wanted to volunteer somewhere, and with a brand new hospital it was a wonderful opportunity."

Since then, Cudebec has become the volunteer of all trades at the hospital, amassing more than 3,000 hours by working three to four days a week in either the mail room, at the hospitality desk, greeting patients or doing administration work.

Younger volunteers are making an impact as well.

About half of the volunteer population is made up of 14- to 18-year-olds, according to Muhlenbeck.

"There is an influx of students who want to volunteer come summer time," Muhlenbeck said. "The younger volunteers are very important to our program."

Recent Bolingbrook High School graduate Sandeep Bharadwaj has volunteered at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital since he was 14.

Bharadwaj – who will attend Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine this fall – has served in the hospital ER and medical surgical units, greeting patients and visitors, and assisting the patient care techs and nurses. He now trains and mentors the hospital's incoming volunteers.

He describes his experience as educational and eye-opening.

"I started volunteering because I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine," Bharadwaj said. "But, it's become much more than that. I realized the impact that volunteering has on hospital patients and me personally. It has been a truly rewarding experience."

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