Even before the establishment of Israel, in 1943, a group of women organized themselves to volunteer to help patients and staff at Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus.
In 1954, through the initiative of Ms. Frankie Bissan and Ms. Yvonne Seatona, a group of volunteers was formed who together established YA'AL.
Ya'al is a volunteer organization that helps wherever possible: providing assistance to patients, making beds, binding and distribution of books, establishing a cafeteria, gift shop and more.
Over the years, the number of volunteers have grown, their roles have expanded and evolved and they are now an integral part of the hospital. Today there are over 500 volunteers in both hospitals who volunteer regularly and over time. Outside of these volunteers, there are also pupils, students and other volunteer groups.
Ya'al is responsible for recruiting, interviewing and directing volunteers to various departments and units according to the preferences and skills of the volunteers and the needs of hospitals.
The volunteer newspaper "Ya'alim" is distributed four times a year to all the volunteers' homes.
Ms. Osnat Sal-man Banovitz is the Director of Ya'al, a volunteer, the organization's chairman and president. She is assisted by two other volunteers: Deputy for Affairs at Hadassah Hospital, Ein Kerem, Mr. Menachem Russo, and Deputy for Affairs at Hadassah Hospital, Mount Scopus, Mrs. Ora Yadov.
How to volunteer at the hospital?
Volunteer services at Hadassah hospitals are welcomed from any man or woman (aged 16 years or more) who are willing and can commit to volunteering on a regular basis.
Volunteers allow Hadassah to improve the quality of service and patient care and to upgrade it, since they are used as reinforcements for Hadassah personnel and fill the roles of salaried workers.
Areas of volunteering at the hospital
The volunteer is an integral part of the hospital staff; certain roles are done only by professional staff trained for this but there is room for a lot of activity by the volunteers. The most significant service provided by the volunteer is their caring, warmth, smile, personal interest in the patient and his family, listening and removing the sense of loneliness, anxiety and boredom. All of these will improve the patient's feelings and help his recovery.
Areas of volunteering are determined jointly by the hospital and by Ya'al. Role descriptions are determined by the needs of the department, the skills required for the job and the volunteers' abilities to perform the tasks.
Much of the volunteer activity is done in the inpatient departments and the hospital clinics, where volunteers can make day to day contact with patients, their families and staff. Such activities are found in departments like orthopedics, surgery, the operating room, children's clinics, and the urology clinic. Sometimes volunteers contribute their time in units which do not come directly into contact with patients such as in the medical library, medical records, pharmacy, and kitchen.
Below are some examples of various areas of activities and the general skills required for their implementation:
Help in the outpatient clinics
Patients arrive at outpatients for testing and check-ups. Volunteers with the ability, flexibility, openness and initiative can perform such tasks as: welcoming the patient, helping to prepare for tests, dealing with the medical file and transferring it to the person handling the case, running errands and assisting in the various offices.
Help with office work
"Behind the scenes" of the hospital, a large office network allows the flow and regularity of the activities of the whole medical system. Meticulous volunteers who can file, photocopy and handle paperwork can contribute their abilities to the medical records unit and medical archives.
Help on the wards and in the emergency room
This activity complements the service provided to patients and their families by the medical and nursing staff.
Volunteers who can handle difficult situations, are open, have good interpersonal skills, flexibility and initiative can be a great support to the patients. They can help with serving food and feeding, help to make beds, escort patients to tests, help in preparing aid equipment for the department and run errands.
The areas of volunteering activity in the hospitals are diverse and flexible: it is possible for a volunteer to integrate into an existing workplace, to use a unique set of skills and even to develop in new areas altogether.
Procedure for enlisting new volunteers
A. Making an appointment for an introductory interview:
Ein Kerem Hospital,
Floor -1 near the dining room, tel 02-6777410
Mount Scopus Hospital
Cafeteria floor, tel 02-5844214
B. Interview with the Chair or representative of Ya'al and filling in a volunteer questionnaire. In the interview, the candidate is given the opportunity to get answers to his questions, and for Ya'al to get to know his background, interests and expectations of volunteerism in advance. Usually, the area of volunteer activity and the position are jointly determined.
C. Meeting with the person in the department responsible/designated for volunteering and/or participating in preparatory meetings for specific departments. At this stage, the desires and skills of the candidates for volunteering are matched the needs of the hospital.
There is a one month trial period to check the suitability of the volunteer to the department, his satisfaction with the work and his ability to help, as well as for the department to check its expectations of the volunteer's activities. The volunteer can always change the location of his activities in coordination with Ya'al.
D. At the end of the absorption process, the volunteer is directed to Hadassah's security department to receive a volunteer card.
Rights of the Volunteer
A. Each volunteer is insured (against work accidents) on his way from his home to the hospital, while working in the hospital and on his way home. In the case of an accident, the Ya'al offices must be notified as quickly as possible.
B. One month after the start of volunteering (the end of the trial period), each volunteer will receive a bus ticket depending on the number of journeys made to and from the hospital. A new travel card can be received in exchange for the return of the previous card.
C. Private vehicles can be parked in any of the existing parking lots. A free parking badge is available from the Ya'al offices.
D. Volunteers are eligible to a discount of 10% for medical care in the clinics.
E. Volunteers are entitled to eat lunch in the dining room of Hadassah employees at a nominal price. Food vouchers must be purchased at the patient admissions office. Lunch can be eaten only on the days of volunteer activities in the hospital.
F. During the year, Ya'al holds general lectures on medical issues and various meetings, subsidized trips across the country and more.
G. All active volunteers who have been volunteering in the hospital for over six months are entitled to Rosh Hashanah and Passover gifts.
H. Volunteers are entitled, like all Hadassah employees, to a discount of 10% in the Ein Kerem mall stores with the presentation of a discount card which can be obtained at the Ya'al offices.
Other volunteer programs
Special Volunteer Programs exist for specific groups in the hospitals. Below are some examples:
A. Students age 16 and upwards who are willing and able can volunteer within the school framework of the "Personal commitment" project, implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Jerusalem Municipality. Student volunteers come for four hours once a week, for the duration of a whole year, and are assigned to the various departments as needed.
During this time, they can become familiar with the medical and paramedical systems, and all systems of the hospital. They are eligible for detailed lectures on issues close to their hearts (such as the subject of AIDS, correct adolescent nutrition and more).
B. Students can also apply for afternoon hours volunteering, which requires a year's commitment to volunteer work for at least four hours once a week. The majority of this activity is focused in the children's department, within the support program run for hospitalized children although it is also possible to volunteer in other departments.
The Hadassah Recycling Team
The paper recycling project of Hadassah Medical Center began operating in 1993, employing approximately 20 adolescents and youth characterized as having special needs.
Each year hundreds of tons of paper are recycled through the project, and hundreds of items of office equipment and others are also refurbished and transferred through the project for reuse.
In addition to the many opportunities given to hospitals participating in the project to become useful citizens, the recycling itself contributes significantly to environmental protection.
The project has improved over the years. Members of the recycling team have expanded the range of occupations and services to the hospitals and a special relationship exists between many of the Hadassah staff and members of the recycling team. The integration of members of the recycling team into all the systems of the hospital is complete and benefits all parties, thereby successfully implementing a combination of social and ecological engagement.
Team Elwyn at Hadassah - Helping People Turn Challenge into Success
The Supported Employment program is one of the occupational rehabilitation programs offered to apprentices in The Sabbah Center in Jerusalem by the organization "Elwyn Israel". The program is designed for adults over the age of 21 diagnosed as having special needs and eligible for a vocational-rehabilitation program.
The continuum of vocational-rehabilitation services provided by Israel Elwyn in Jerusalem and the region afford each individual the opportunity to integrate into a suitable vocational program or to advance according to his/her desires, needs and abilities.
The ultimate goal of all of Israel Elwyn's programs is to provide individuals with the tools needed to lead more independent lives within the community.
Some volunteer participants are referred by the Division for the Treatment of the Mentally Handicapped in the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and some by their Rehabilitation Service, by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services and via various local authorities and welfare offices in the community. The program has participants with various impairments such as mental retardation, different syndromes, physical injuries (blindness, deafness, disability), mental disabilities, and learning disabilities.
The relationship with Hadassah began more than 10 years ago via a unique collaboration with the Organization of Hadassah Women, who operate its volunteer service due to a desire to reinforce the hospital staff through its ongoing work while integrating people with special needs into the normative work environment with a variety of work and broad experience.
In the framework of the program, about 35 trainees volunteer in the hospitals and are integrated into ongoing activities in different departments: X-ray, sterile supplies, the pharmacy, archives, medical records, warehouse, bakery, kitchen, and utilities.
Each hospital has a guide who accompanies the volunteers participating in the program during their activity to enable their successful integration into work in the community. They enable their trainees to deal successfully with the requirements of the work market in a gradual and positive way, and to significantly improve their quality of life.
The people at Hadassah warmly opened their doors to integrate participants into the hospitals activities, and continue to do so on a day to day basis, therein acting as partners in the advancement of people with special needs in the community.
Project "Lavi", a project that brings together medical students from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and patients and their families during their hospitalization. The student volunteers offer patients and their families their attendance, a sympathetic ear and emotional assistance as well as participation in daily activities and communication with the medical staff.
The child safety organization "B'terem", deals with prevention of accidents of children at home.
The "First Hug" (Hibuk Rishon) is a nongovernmental organization of volunteers who visit the Pediatric departments and serve as caregivers for infants who were abandoned at the hospital, providing vital caring and love.
The law stipulates that a child must never be left unattended in the hospital. Sometimes a situation arises where parents are confined to the hospital and cannot leave for a few hours. Here volunteers of the project "exchanging mothers" are introduced and can replace the parents during times of need.