10,000 hours and counting

Fairview’s ace volunteer Ethel Hudon hits milestone of service


A celebration took place last Tuesday as Wyoming’s Ethel Hudon logged her 10,000th hour of volunteering at Fairview Lakes Medical Center. Anyone interested in volunteering there is urged to call (651) 982-7774. (Photo submitted)

Ethel Hudon of Wyoming has been volunteering at Fairview Lakes Medical Center since before it opened in 1998. Last week she reached an incredible 10,000 hours of service.

Among both staff and visitors, Hudon is perhaps one of Fairview Lakes Medical Center’s most recognized volunteers. Not only is she highly visible in her role at the hospital information desk every Tuesday and in the Cancer Clinic every Wednesday, she has also served Fairview Lakes Medical Center longer than any of the 173 regularly-scheduled volunteers.

Scheduled to volunteer 60 hours per month in various roles, Hudon reached a milestone of 10,000 hours of service on Sept. 11. In comparison, one or two other active volunteers have reached 5,000 hours and 32 have reached 2,000 hours, according to Jane Denovchek, manager of volunteer services.

Hudon had been retired for about a year when she decided in 1997 to look for a volunteer opportunity. Having once enjoyed working in a hospital, a newspaper article about the new Fairview Lakes Medical Center opening that next February caught her attention and she called to inquire about volunteering.

The volunteer coordinator put Hudon to work right away, staffing the information desk even before the hospital opened. Hudon answered questions and gave directions to contractors who were still working on building construction as well as doctors and employees on their way to orientation meetings.

For more than 15 years, Hudon has remained in her information desk role, directing or escorting patients and families to clinics and hospital departments. Sometimes she offers additional assistance to patients and families, such as wheeling a woman to oncology while her husband goes to see another doctor.

“They feel really comfortable coming here when they see faces they recognize,” says Hudon.

Expanding Her

A few years ago, Hudon volunteered to help develop a Cancer Clinic volunteer position and fills the role herself one day a week.

“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done,” says Hudon. “It’s awesome to watch the nurses with the patients. You become a friend to the patients. It’s really wonderful.”

Hudon also works with a key auxiliary program, providing clothing for patients in the emergency department.

In addition to her regular assignments, Hudon is often tapped to train new volunteers, some of whom she has recruited herself. Once, a man who had been bringing his wife for cancer treatment recognized Hudon at the grocery store and told her that his wife had passed away. When he confided that his days were empty without his wife, Hudon invited him to volunteer at Fairview Lakes Medical Center.

Hudon is quick to share the credit for all that she does for patients and staff. “We volunteers all work together,” she says. “Everything we do here is a team effort, definitely.”

Ask nearly anyone at Fairview, though, and they will tell you Hudon is one of a kind.

“She definitely has a ‘servant’s heart’ and is well-liked and respected by patients and staff,” says Denovchek.