Oshawa’s hospital helpers
Oshawa’s hospital helpers
August 19, 2009
Lakeridge Health Oshawa volunteers Ucal Shillingford, Ashley Elson, and Tess Grant all dream of a career in medicine. They are volunteering at the hospital for the summer to learn the ins and outs of the hospital.

By Lindsey Cole
The Oshawa Express

As Tess Grant, Ucal Shillingford and Ashley Elson sit around the picnic table outside Lakeridge
Health Oshawa each share one dream, to be in medicine. And this summer they are making a difference in their own way by volunteering in various areas at the hospital. For Grant, a 16-yearold O’Neill Collegiate student, the ER is the place to be.“A typical day is busy,” she says with a laugh.“There are a lot of people coming in stressed. You deal a lot with younger kids.” While her role is to mainly restock supplies and make sure nurses have the proper amount of
equipment at their disposal, sometime she gets a chance to talk to patients.“A lot of older patients I go and talk to. It brightens their day. It makes the time go by,” she says, adding they often thank her endlessly.“How does this five minutes make a difference to you?” she says in disbelief at the difference she is making.

“That’s the best part of my day.” Grant desperately wants to go into medicine and thought this was the perfect way to see just what avenue she would like to go down in the future. Ideally she would like travel the world, becoming a part of Doctors Without Borders, but for now her feet will have to stay firmly planted in Oshawa until she can finish high school. For 19-year-old Ucal Shillingford, who volunteers in hospitality and the pre surgical departments, it’s a chance to brighten someone’s day.“At first I wanted to get somewhere that’s a little more hands on,” he says of his hospitality position. “I like dealing with people, giving them a happy smile.”
The second-year University of Waterloo student says he is often the first person people see as they walk in through the large hospital doors. He helps them find their way through the maze of departments by giving them detailed directions.

While this might seem like a menial task, Shillingford says it is important.“The hospitality-area gave me a good feel of the hospital inside and out,” he says, adding he too gets lots of thanks for helping people out.“I help people looking for directions, answer questions and give general information instead of just a computer.”


When Shillingford volunteers in the pre surgical area he says he makes sure the supplies are stocked up and helps to make the whole experience fluid.“They (staff) are really thankful. It’s the best way to spend your summer. You feel better at the end of the day. It’s doing the little things.”

Grant couldn’t agree more.“It’s totally worth it,” she says. Ashley Elson, who volunteers in the surgical suite, says the smallest task, like making sure patients have a warm blanket, can make a world of difference.“Most of them are really cold,” she says matter-of-factly.“I just like the smiles of their faces. I like being in the hospital.” Elson, 16, says she wants to become a paediatric nurse, as she loves kids. All three volunteers say it’s the best way to spend their summer. It’s the best way to spend their time.“I love it, and I will probably never stop doing,” Grant says.“It makes me feel good.”

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