FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Officials say Fort Bragg’s Womack Army Medical Center is in critical need of Red Cross volunteers.
The shortage is causing the hospital, which treats more than 3,200 people each week, to operate at less than full capacity. The hospital serves service members and their families.
Melvin Nelson is one of the Red Cross volunteers at Womack. The 64-year-old retired master sergeant volunteers at least four hour each week, going room to room distributing newspapers, toiletries and simply offering comfort.
“You interact with a lot of the patients,” he said. “You got a lot of veterans here, and being a veteran myself you have older people here so I have an opportunity to talk to them, give them a little smile, a little joke.”
Womack volunteers serve in both medical and support capacities.
At one point Womack’s volunteer bank included more than 400 volunteers. That number is now less than 90.
“I think lot of the volunteers we had kind of aged out, and then we went digital,” said Linda Daney. “For them to keep up with the digital aspect of volunteering was too much.”
“I’ve seen the wonderful work that the Red Cross does, and I think they’re a great asset to healthcare industry,” said Julie Swartz, a patient at Womack.
Swartz has been a nurse for more than two decades and has worked at many different military hospitals across the country. Now she’s receiving, rather than giving, care, and she said that gives her a great appreciation for the volunteers.
“They have a heart for service, service towards others and their families,” she said. “The military in itself is a family, and I think that it’s wonderful that they come back, especially after retirement, to give back to their country.”
To be a volunteer, click here.