Innovative program in line for top award

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Epworth Eastern’s driving program volunteer Anthony Mallamace drives across Melbourne’s east picking up patients and dropping them to various appointments.

As a Doncaster resident Anthony saw the opportunity to offer his time to a worthy cause driving various patients to their dialysis appointments, including one special patient his father who is receiving ongoing treatment for his condition.

Epworth Eastern commenced its driving program in 2017 has been nominated for an Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) Award for Excellence – comprehensive care for the program at Epworth Eastern. The awards recognise an outstanding contribution to patient treatment and care.

Epworth HealthCare’s driving program sees volunteers clock up over 3,000 km per month driving patients across Box Hill and surrounds. It comes as Epworth this year is celebrating 100 years of caring for patients on February 27, from its early beginnings as a 25 bed hospital in 1920.

As a part of their role, volunteers give up their time to drive patients to and from their dialysis appointments. Volunteers pick up patients six days a week as a part of a zero cost door-to-door service which provides the patient with stress free transport to and from the hospital for their treatment.

The drivers are given an Epworth car which has been generously donated by the Epworth Medical Foundation, to use while they are volunteering in the program with all expenses covered as a part of their role.

Epworth HealthCare Group Manager Volunteer Program Belinda Howard said the program eases the burden from patients many of whom are receiving ongoing treatment.

“Being a volunteer-led program, the drivers offer their time, commitment and ongoing support to patients that are seeking some familiarity and consistency during their treatment,” Ms Howard said.

“Volunteers offer companionship and interact with patients, and in many cases create wonderful lifelong friendships.”  

There are more than 40 volunteers who contribute their time at Epworth Eastern to support patients and hospital staff in a range of areas. 

These include concierge roles for greeting patients and visitors on arrival, hand massage volunteers, oncology volunteers who provide patient support in the day oncology unit and wig salon plus much more. 

There are close to 300 volunteers working across Epworth HealthCare’s hospital sites in Melbourne and Geelong.

Local residents who are interested in joining the driving program can apply by visiting epworth.org.au/About-Us/Volunteering.

As appeared in Leader Newspapers
Photo by Leader Newspapers.

Read more: Celebrating a centenary of caring for others – Epworth HealthCare

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