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April 25, 2017
April 23 to 29, 2017 is National Volunteer Week and the recognition is well deserved for the nearly 900 individuals who donate their time to help others at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). Each year, LHSC’s Volunteer Services holds an appreciation event where all volunteers are thanked for their work and those who have milestones over five years are recognized with a Long Service Award.
This year’s Long Service Awards theme will be “Memories of the Past” and there will be 80 volunteers receiving long service award pins, starting from 5 years up to 30 years of service. For some, volunteering provides an opportunity to continue to help others and stay connected even after retirement from LHSC.
For five years Jim Silcox has been volunteering his time helping answer questions for patients and visitors entering LHSC’s University Hospital from the Information Desk in the front lobby. His volunteer role is quite different from his UH role as an Obstetrician /Gynaecologist, which he began only six months after the hospital opened.
“We were proud to work in University Hospital, a new hospital with a bright future. When we merged with Victoria Hospital we had a new pride and different pride – we were becoming one of the biggest hospitals in Canada,” says Silcox. Following his practice at UH, he spent ten years as Chief of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Victoria Hospital and a further 10 years at St. Joseph’s Health Care London before teaching the next generation of medical professionals at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine.
He was inspired to volunteer by Dr. Howie Cameron, a former orthopaedic surgeon at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “I have interviewed many potential medical students and the common refrain I heard is that their motivation to enter medicine is to help people. It is no different with retired physicians. We, and I, still want to help people,” explains Silcox. “It’s a humbling experience to see the patient journey from a different perspective.” Furthermore, the hospital environment is a familiar and comfortable setting for retired medical professionals.
It is common for the volunteers at UH’s Information Desk to help over 100 people during their half-day volunteer shifts and Silcox does it with an empathetic ear and bright sense of humour, often telling patients that he’s happy to “tell them where to go.” Silcox also spent two years on the Volunteer Advisory Committee providing advice to the volunteer office and working with the committee on top of his role as babysitter and chauffeur to his eight grandchildren who are all under the age of 13 and other volunteer commitments.
“I would urge former physicians to consider volunteering,” encourages Silcox. “The environment is interactive and stimulating and at the end of shift you feel that you’ve made a difference.”