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Twenty-three years ago when Alice Van Deusen was an education and human services professor at Simmons College, she went on sabbatical and was looking for a way to anchor her week doing something she loved. Van Deusen, a long-time resident of Concord, had always been fascinated with medicine and decided to volunteer at Emerson Hospital as a way to give back to her community and make a difference for people. She volunteered during her sabbatical and stayed on as a volunteer long after the sabbatical was over.

Recently, Alice was honored with the prestigious Joan Schiller Outstanding Volunteer Award at Emerson’s annual Volunteer Awards and Appreciation Luncheon. Each year, one volunteer who has made a significant contribution in service to Emerson patients is honored with the prestigious award. Recipients are chosen on the basis of their contributions to the delivery of high-quality personal care that strengthens the profession of volunteer service. For Alice, volunteering is about, “helping people relax and understand the hospital environment by being a comforting, friendly face.”

Alice has served more than 9,715 hours since she started volunteering at Emerson in 1994. During this time, she has volunteered in the post anesthesia care unit as a family liaison, spending time with family members while their loved ones are recovering from surgery. “I love to listen to them and help bring them comfort while they wait to see their loved one after surgery.” She has also volunteered on the mother/baby unit, greeted thousands of visitors and patients at the front reception area in Emerson’s main lobby, and has roles in other areas of the hospital.

"One of the hallmarks of Emerson is our focus on giving patients premium care with a personal touch. Our volunteers provide the personal touch that truly makes a difference to patients and families," said Christine Schuster, president and CEO of Emerson. “Alice takes a personal and professional responsibility in all that she does at Emerson. She is incredibly deserving of the Joan Schiller Outstanding Volunteer Award and we are extremely grateful to have her on our team.” 

One of Alice’s favorite memories volunteering at Emerson is when a woman stopped her at a local grocery story and told her how much she appreciated her comfort while her husband was undergoing surgery. “I was very touched that she remembered who I was and gratified that I brought her comfort. I was most pleased to hear that her husband had fully recovered from his surgery.”  She also cherishes the close friendships she has made with many Emerson volunteers.

"Emerson has more volunteers per patient bed than any other hospital in Massachusetts," explains Janet Davis, director of community services at Emerson. "However, it is not simply how many volunteers we have, but the caliber of volunteers we have. Our patients and their family members can't help but feel comfortable and cared for when they meet Alice. She loves to help people and it shows in all of her interactions and thoughtful, calm and caring ways with everyone she meets."

For information about volunteering at Emerson Hospital, please visit emersonhospital.org/Support/Volunteering.aspx.

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Emerson Hospital is a multi-site health system headquartered in Concord, Mass., with additional facilities in Sudbury, Groton and Westford and urgent care centers in Hudson and Littleton. The 179-bed hospital provides advanced medical services to more than 300,000 individuals in 25 towns. To learn more, visit www.emersonhospital.org.