Schneck Guild reports strong 2020, seeks volunteers

While volunteer hours and shuttle riders were down in 2020, Schneck Medical Center saw a big increase in its gift shop operating profit.

In a pandemic year, the shop’s profit was $65,177.91, an increase of $24,957.51 over 2019.

During a recent Schneck board of trustees meeting, Kathy Covert, vice president of workforce and support services, made a presentation on the Seymour hospital’s volunteer services for 2020.

The profit increase is mainly attributed to high team member utilization due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Our cafeteria services were limited, and we extended hours in the gift shop and made sure that we had different snacks and food and beverage options in the gift shop because they really became a source of lunch and other things for our team members,” said Julie Warren, director of human resources for Schneck.

The gift shop was open to the public last year, but visitor restrictions were in place in the hospital for a long period of time, so there weren’t many visitors, she said.

“There was certainly a chunk of the year where we did not have the visitor volume going through the gift shop that we normally did, but our team members were frequenting it more often,” she said.

Profits from the gift shop go into the Schneck Medical Center Guild fund. In 2020, a $50,000 cash donation was made for hospital capital budget items.

“It’s not always earmarked for something specific, but it certainly has been utilized in the past to assist with numerous projects within the hospital,” Warren said.

A portion of that money also goes toward the many guild activities throughout the year. Those include cardiac rehab monitor bags, prayer shawls, pediatric goody bags, emergency department survival totes, cancer baskets and robes, pediatric surgery bears, drain bags, Junior Volunteer scholarships and discretionary fund.

Also in 2020, masks were sewn and donated to the Schneck Foundation, and lap blankets were sewn and donated by a guild volunteer to give to the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour for local children with limited resources.

“We felt very thankful that we could continue to keep those up even when we didn’t have the volunteers here for a good portion of the year,” Warren said. “We’re proud of the work that has been done by that volunteer group.”

Due to the pandemic, it was expected that volunteer hours would be down in 2020. That total was 6,044.34, a decrease of 16,331.17 hours from 2019.

“It was sometimes disheartening when we didn’t have any volunteers here, but in the same token, we knew that sending them home, so to speak, was the right thing to do at that time when the pandemic was in full force,” Warren said.

“Certainly, our volunteer folks are in the more high-risk range for various reasons, so we felt it important that we discontinued those volunteer services for that time period until we felt like it was safe for them to come back,” she said. “It truly was a safety thing.”

Since the shuttle was out of service from March 16 to Sept. 9 last year, the number of riders was down from 2019. That total was 9,681.

“Shuttle rider numbers were down, too, again for the right reason,” Warren said. “With that being said, very thankful to get that shuttle back up and going, and I know our patients are, as well.”

On a positive note, the value of volunteer hours in 2020 was $90,665. Adding that to the cash donation made by the guild, the total donations for last year were $140,665.

Warren said Schneck had more than 100 volunteers prepandemic and only has around 60 now, but the hospital is continuing to recruit people. New volunteers already have stepped up to help, she said.

“Schneck Medical Center is so thankful for their volunteers,” Warren said. “They provide resources far more valuable than most people realize. They choose to help others by giving of themselves.”

As a not-for-profit organization, Schneck relies on volunteers to assist staff in completing many daily tasks, allowing staff to spend more time providing patient care, she said.

“The volunteer program at Schneck Medical Center is a team effort,” she said. “As a volunteer, you are one of many dedicated individuals with similar goals and achievements. This not only gives you support and flexibility but also allows you to make new friends and meet new people.”