Hospital employees give back as volunteers

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North Valley Hospital employs over 400 people at the Whitefish hospital, all of whom are considered caregivers, as part of our Planetree philosophy of patient-centered care. Everyone from nurses to physicians to dietary support, from information systems to housekeeping employees are part of the care team.

While our NVH employees excel in their work as caregivers every day, many of them also choose to give back to the Flathead Valley community as volunteers. In addition to providing care at the hospital for their “day jobs” (often not during the day but on night shift), North Valley Hospital employees also give back to the community in their free time, making a personal connection to various nonprofits and contributing their time to our communities. For example, many employees volunteer at Shepherd’s Hand free clinic in Whitefish, offering their medical skills to the community outside of their work time at the hospital.

For the month of Thanksgiving, in honor of generosity, I talked to just a few of the employees who volunteer in Whitefish and our neighboring communities about why they want to give back.

Eric Schnell — ER Technician at North Valley Hospital

“Since I have medical skills and training, I thought that would be my contribution to the community,” says Eric Schnell, an emergency department technician at North Valley Hospital. “So when I moved here two years ago, I started volunteering with Bigfork Fire Department as an EMT.”

Schnell selected Bigfork because that’s where he grew up visiting — the cabin his great-grandparents built on Flathead Lake — and how he moved to the Flathead Valley after college.

“Bigfork is a great community, and I recognized a need there for volunteers — Whitefish and Kalispell have really strong EMS departments, we work with them a lot in the ER — and I just saw a need for trained volunteers in Bigfork.” Schnell explains that he started as a volunteer and now has a paid position, but still volunteers around 48 hours of call time a week, when he’s available to help with emergency calls in Bigfork.

“It’s important to me to spend time out in our communities, and to use my skills to help where I can,” says Schnell. “I’d like to find ways to give more of my time, to Flathead Valley SAR, or another group, once I can make it happen with my work schedule,” he says.

Jamie Roberts — RN at North Valley Hospital

For Jamie Roberts, her reasons for choosing where to volunteer are a little different. “Nursing is my passion and I enjoy coming to work every day, but when I heard about Project Whitefish Kids from a coworker I immediately knew I wanted to be involved. I understand how important it is to be involved in community events. The opportunity at Project Whitefish kids fit my lifestyle and I am able to learn and grow as a community member as well as helping support the community,” says Roberts.

Roberts explains, “I enjoy that Project Whitefish Kids involves many different community members. It allows people to come together from all different backgrounds to raise money for a variety of activities for kids in the community such as soccer, lacrosse, theatre, and more events.”

“Growing up I was also involved in sports and I feel it’s important to give the kids in this community the opportunity to be involved in extracurricular activities.” Roberts explains. “I love to give back in any way I can. It makes me feel good to use my free time in a way that helps others.”

Deven Robinson — Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

“In my position I see the need for community resources to support our mental and behavioral health programs, so I wanted to donate my time to organizations that help to fill that need in our area,” says Deven Robinson, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at North Valley Behavioral Health, who volunteers for the Nate Chute Foundation Board in Whitefish.

The Nate Chute Foundation is dedicated to suicide prevention, and also works with North Valley Hospital to increase outreach for suicide prevention. Robinson explains that his work makes him passionate about volunteering, and the need for mental health and suicide prevention is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“We care about our patients and our community, so we want to give back, even outside our working roles as caregivers,” says Robinson. “There is a need for additional resources for suicide prevention, so that’s something I volunteer for.” Robinson is also a volunteer member on the Foundation Board at North Valley Hospital.

“It’s just something that I feel is very important, to bring awareness into the lives of the population to have good mental health and to give back,” he says. “Especially when we are lucky to live in such a great community, it makes it even better when we are involved in some way.”

Allison Linville handles community relations for North Valley Hospital.

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