Home' Southern Health News : March 2017 Contents Looking out for others comes naturally to Sylvia
BY WISHA SMITH
After almost two decades as a volunteer
at Flinders Medical Centre (FMC), Sylvia
Wolverson, President of the Volunteer
Service is a familiar face to many.
It is impossible to be a volunteer at FMC and not
know who Sylvia is. Whether it is chatting with
volunteers, attending meetings, or dealing with
administration work associated with her role as
President, Sylvia seems to be a constant presence
at the hospital.
Unsurprisingly to everyone who knows Sylvia, she
has spent most of her life looking out for others.
At 16 she began working as a nurse assistant in
an isolation hospital in the UK. Her patients were
mainly babies and children, often suffering from
whooping cough, dysentery or pneumonia.
“It was a very sad place to nurse at; I should
have gone into general nursing rather than that
particular hospital as we had to deal with some
very sad things,” she said.
“The Matron was very angry when I left; they
never tell you how well you’re doing while you’re
“I’ve always regretted not qualifying for nursing
but I had other interests and they sort of took
over,” she said.
In 1964, Sylvia and her husband made the move
to Australia to work and raise their family.
She spent the last 12 years before retirement
working as a funeral consultant, where she
enjoyed supporting families when they were at
their most vulnerable.
“I saw people at the very worst time of their life
but I met some lovely people who wanted me to
be part of their family at that particular time.
be bored – there's too
much volunteering to do.
“I thought I’d really like to meet these sorts of
people before they get to this stage and be able
to help them, so I came to FMC to volunteer,”
The Volunteer Director put Sylvia in the
Emergency Department (ED) because of her past
experience as a nurse assistant. This decision was
a good one and Sylvia was a perfect fit.
“I didn’t find it stressful because I’m a people
person, I love talking and helping others.
“We make litres of tea and coffee and people are
always so grateful. They say ‘oh you’re such an
angel’ when you’ve just given them a cup of tea,”
In the ED, volunteers are required to be highly
sensitive to patient needs and be able to
communicate in times of emotional stress.
Volunteers must have the ability to support and
comfort relatives and patients, especially when
there has been a bereavement or acute illness
“The families are often very grateful they’ve had
someone other than a medical person to talk to,”
Sylvia now does one day a week in the ED and
also serves as Chairperson for the area.
According to Niki Burton, Director of the
Volunteer Service at FMC, it is essential to
recognise the contribution made by volunteers to
the Volunteer Service and the wider community.
“This month Sylvia will be receiving her 19 years of
service badge and is already a Life Member of the
“She also recently won the Southern Suburbs
Volunteer Service Award, which is a true
testament to her dedication and commitment to
everything she puts her mind to,” Niki said.
Being a volunteer has allowed Sylvia to make a
difference within the community, help others,
make friends and be involved in decision making
around programs and services offered at FMC.
“You’ve got to do something. I like people; I’m a
people person so I just love volunteering.
“People shouldn’t be bored – there’s too much
volunteering to do,” Sylvia said.
Want to know more?
Over 550 volunteers work at Flinders Medical
Centre clocking up 135,000 hours of service
each year, making it one of the busiest volunteer
organisations in the Southern Hemisphere.
Volunteers at FMC provide a wide variety of
services, from running refreshment and gift
outlets, to providing ward services and support
and comfort to families in the ED and Intensive
and Critical Care Unit (ICCU).
If you would like to be a part of this wonderful
and dedicated team of volunteers, please call the
Recruitment Department on (08) 8204 3009,
(08) 8204 5169 or (08) 8204 6397.
16 / MARCH 2017 / SOUTHERN HEALTH NEWS
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