High School Seniors HELP JPS Geriatric Patients

January 30th, 2019

A group of high school seniors from Fort Worth will donate their time in the coming months to senior citizens hospitalized at the JPS Health Network.

Jana Thompson, MSN, RN, gives OD Wyatt High School student volunteers a tour of a patient room at JPS Health Network in Fort Worth, Texas

Jana Thompson, MSN, RN, gives OD Wyatt High School student volunteers a tour of a patient room at JPS Health Network in Fort Worth, Texas

Mitzi Vander Ark, Volunteer and Community Engagement Coordinator at JPS, said the teens are from OD Wyatt High School. They aspire to careers in the medical field and are members of their school’s Patient Care Technician/Assistant program.

“They have been specifically trained for the Hospital Elder Life Program, or HELP for short,” Vander Ark said of the role the students will be performing at JPS. “It is part of the Delirium certification that the Joint Commission tasked us to grow this year. The students in this program seemed like a perfect fit, it’s a great experience for them and for our seniors.”

Student volunteer Jack Hein said he dreams of becoming a cardiologist someday. He said he’s excited and grateful for the chance to participate in the program and see how things work behind the scenes in a hospital.

“I’m interested in seeing what happens in reality,” Hein said. “Sometimes that can be a lot different than what you learn in a classroom. Knowing that this is the real world really impresses upon you that you have to take things seriously.”

Classmate Wendy Sanchez said she was inspired to become an occupational therapist after seeing how they helped her brother when he was hospitalized.

“It’s a great chance for us to learn,” Sanchez said. “It’s also great that while we’re getting this experience, we’ll be able to make a difference by helping other people, too.”

There are 16 students in the HELP group and they are assigned in pairs to assist patients in eight JPS units scattered across the hospital. They’ll work on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the spring semester, according to Jana Thompson, MSN, RN, who oversees the HELP program at JPS. They’ll take care of things including orienting patients, helping them with range of motion exercises, assist in feeding them and they’ll also keep seniors company.

“You may not understand this now,” Critical Care RN Valerie Lechuga told students as they toured the P4 Cardiac Progressive Cardiac Care Unit. “But sitting with an elderly person and hearing what they have to say can be quite fulfilling. In many ways they’re our most precious population and they have a lot to share. They’ve seen things in their years that you couldn’t possibly imagine. When you’re here, we don’t just want you filing papers. We want to find as many of these opportunities for you as possible.”

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