Strong ties to QEH brought volunteer back
It was because of his wife Rosemary that Delbert Evans started volunteering at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – and she’s the reason he’s there today, even without her.
“Rosemary began to get involved as a volunteer at the QEH and I joined along with her,” says the 85-year-old, who moved to Prince Edward Island from Ontario as a retiree. The couple bought a small farm property on the 48 Road in east Kings County.
“She worked at the cancer treatment centre, and she was there when she developed cancer the second time. I was there with her until she passed away in 2010,” he said. “She was such a caring person and it was just natural for me to get involved with her. We did everything together.”
For Evans, helping Prince Edward Island’s largest hospital means giving back to a community and a health system that have supported him. He uses his experience – both as a volunteer and as someone who has had a loved one in care – to help guide his work today.
Volunteering at the QEH takes a number of forms for Evans. He regularly spends a morning a week in the dialysis clinic, serving as needed as a fill-in worker in the cancer treatment centre where it all began for him.
“You just try to do what is needed,” Evans says. “A lot of what I do is simple work; I fill the blanket warmer or I make sure there are enough gloves for the nurses. But I also get into conversations with people who are here for treatment, I might take lunch orders for them and we get to know each other.”
He also works on the hospital’s quality and safety committee and on the cancer treatment centre’s quality improvement team.
“The people who are there have such great training and a lot of responsibilities; I try to engage with them where they need me and to let them do their work,” he says. “You can find out where to help by asking questions and listening. They get to trust you,”
“In the committees I’m on it’s the same. These are very accomplished people with a lot to do. But you’re there because they want to hear from you.”
He got involved with the hospital through Engage PEI, which helps Islanders volunteer to fill vacancies on more than 70 provincial government agencies, boards, and commissions.
An Indiana native, Evans says he returned to the United States to be closer to family after his wife’s passing, but soon found himself returning to Prince Edward Island and to his volunteer work at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“The hospital is such a part of the community here, people feel like it belongs to them,” he said. “That’s why you see people donating to it and volunteering to work at the QEH.”
“People in other places would just marvel at what we have here.”