Retiree finds new purpose as a volunteer with East Cooper

Jan Ledbetter, Volunteer, East Cooper Medical Center

Jan Ledbetter puts her organizational skills to good use and makes a difference for the community in the process

Once she retired, Jan Ledbetter had a lot of time on her hands, and she intended to fill it. She arrived at East Cooper Medical Center to attend an AARP course on safe driving and noticed a woman in a pink jacket, worn by the hospital’s volunteers.

“I asked her about it and she took me right out and gave me an application,” Jan says. “That was in 2000, and I’ve been with Volunteer Services ever since.”

Over the years, Ledbetter has helped out in just about every part of the hospital, finally settling in at the gift shop.

“I have a lot of nurses in my family, but I’m not a former nurse,” says Ledbetter. “I’m an organizational sort of person so the gift shop is perfect for me.”

Success in the shop spreads beyond the hospital walls. All proceeds are donated to charitable groups in the area and to a scholarship fund for employees’ children who plan to enter the healthcare field.

Ledbetter also serves as president of Volunteer Services, overseeing about 100 volunteers. Keeping every one of them busy and informed is practically a full-time job.

Each volunteer fills out an application, gets a background check and then goes through orientation. Volunteer Services then matches up the volunteer’s availability and the hospital’s needs and places them where they are most needed.

“A lot of people want to volunteer now and then, but we don’t do that,” she says. “We have slots that we need to fill in five different areas, and so we encourage volunteers to come in for at least one shift a week and we like them to commit to it for one year.”

Volunteers can greet visitors at the front desk, escort discharged patients out, bring flowers to patient rooms, help out at the nursery, assist the nurses with some tasks, stay with family members in the surgery waiting room and more. In a recent development, eight volunteers who had joint replacement surgery at East Cooper have formed a group to help patients who are undergoing that surgery, just talking them through the experience so that they know what to expect.

Every day, Ledbetter sees how Volunteer Services makes a difference to the patients of East Cooper, as well as their loved ones.

“The volunteers are friendly, the staff is friendly and everyone is very helpful,” she says. “That’s what they like about it.”