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 - Main Hospital
 - Main Hospital

Volunteer Finds a Fit in Emergency Situations 

Photo of Lee Bird standing outside Stillwater Medical's Emergency Department

The Emergency Room is one of those places most people do their best to avoid. We take precautions and go to any length necessary to keep ourselves outside of those sliding glass doors. Yet, a few in our community feel a distinct purpose and calling to this space. Lee Bird is one of them. 

After a distinguished career as a leader in student affairs, her first order of business in retirement was to ready herself as a volunteer. This sprouted from her earliest years as a child, watching her parents as first aid instructors with the Red Cross. It’s an innate sense of duty that makes serving her community as natural as breathing. 

“My parents were very active volunteers. It’s just what you do,” Bird said. 

So when COVID-19 hit shortly after Bird started volunteering in the Stillwater Medical Center Emergency Room, she never wavered. Once volunteers were welcomed back into the hospital, she faithfully showed up for every shift, working to do what she could to help provide the best patient experience possible. 

“Anything that makes it faster to help people get to the back, that’s what we are going to do. Whether that’s cleaning rooms or carrying out the garbage – it doesn’t matter. That’s what keeps us moving and able to provide our services,” Bird said. 

She is uniquely positioned to make a positive impact in this hectic, fast-paced, and vulnerable space. With training as a counselor and decades of experience in higher education administration, she knows how to navigate stressful situations and prioritize the well being of others. 

“The opportunity to do good and help people feel welcome is both science and art,” Bird said. “It’s a unique setting that I feel very comfortable in. A little bit of grace goes a long way. A warm blanket, a friendly smile, and someone to talk to because it’s lonely in those rooms.” 

For Bird, the ER was the perfect fit. She is one of 124 active volunteers improving the patient experience and level of care provided at Stillwater Medical. Since 1958, the hospital has had a volunteer presence, which has evolved over the years. Jeffery Corbett, senior director of volunteer engagement and foundation programs, is dedicated to ensuring every volunteer finds their fit. 

“We have places for just about anyone. From what Lee is doing in the ER to others who never step foot in the hospital. We even have a dedicated group of volunteers who knit caps for every baby born,” Corbett said. “We can help you figure out a position you’d enjoy that will work for you.”

Bird’s career experience prepared her well for her service, but it wasn’t a prerequisite. Volunteers at Stillwater Medical come from a variety of backgrounds, skill levels, and stages of life. They perform distinct duties that enhance the capability of care in the units they serve. Because they are able to assist with basic tasks and necessary responsibilities, specially trained and licensed providers are able to do the work only they can do. 

“To be a great volunteer you really only need two things: a smile and a heart to care for others. If you come in with that, we can train and equip you for the rest,” Corbett said. 

Stillwater Medical asks that volunteers commit to four hours of service each week. Volunteer shifts are flexible and can accommodate almost any schedule. Those interested in volunteering can visit to fill out an interest form and begin the process of placement. 

“I love working here,” Bird said. “The people are my favorite part. They care about each other. They care about the patients. They want to make sure everyone receives safe and compassionate care.” 

Story by Abby Fox. Photo by Bethany Folkes.

Stillwater Medical Center
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