Volunteers are taking care of business

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Craig Bemrose does much more than just serve coffee at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH).

He’s also helping to improve patient care – one cup of java at a time.

Bemrose, a volunteer at RVH for 11 years, spends every Thursday afternoon in Café Royale, one of two businesses owned and operated by the RVH Auxiliary.

Last year Café Royale and Victoria’s Gift Shop netted nearly $180,000. Since the two businesses opened (Victoria’s Gift Shop in 1963 and the Café Royale in 1991) an estimated $7 million of profits has been poured back into patient care at RVH.

In fact, it was the RVH Auxiliary that raised an incredible $5 million to help build the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre and more recently, another $1.5 million for the new Cardiac Care Unit (CCU).

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“We can’t forget that our volunteers, who are also members of the RVH Auxiliary, are a huge part of Team RVH and they directly contribute to improved patient experiences at the health centre,” says Wayne Hubbard, president, RVH Auxiliary. “Our volunteers provide an added role in patient support, not only in clinical settings but also by helping a family member find just the right gift or comfort item in Victoria’s Gift Shop or serving coffee and chatting with a patient at Café Royale.”

Each year, the Auxiliary also provides funding for capital equipment through its Nevada ticket sales and enhances patient care through its Care Fund (formerly known as the Wish List fund). Through the Care Fund items such as wheelchairs are purchased and patients enjoy the annual Patient Holiday Party. Funds from the Nevada tickets have been used to purchase Echo Beds for Cardiac Rehab and ECG machines.

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“The volunteers in the Auxiliary businesses are sometimes the first people that our patients and family speak to when they arrive at RVH,” says Sally Ranger, operations manager, RVH Auxiliary. “They offer a friendly face, a listening ear and are always ready and willing to help out in any way possible.”

And you don’t have to tell that to Craig Bemrose, who knows he’s doing more than taking coffee orders.

“It’s rewarding. Quite often a family member or even a patient comes in for a coffee and they’ll end up telling you their whole life story,” laughs Bemrose. “Of course we’re also raising money here but sometimes people are just looking for someone to talk to and if I can be that person, if I can help bring a brief moment of comfort to someone, then that’s just an added perk to the job.”