His usual stuff in ICU Volunteer: Adrian Fletcher, a retired longshoreman who found he missed being around people, found his niche in working with patients in a program at North Arundel Hospital.

July 17, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

Adrian Fletcher has been up to his usual stuff, chatting about everything and nothing in particular with John Bryant, a cancer patient in North Arundel Hospital's intensive care unit.

Bryant, 75, of Glen Burnie is a self-confessed talker who is waiting for his wife, Katherine, to arrive. After four days in the hospital, Bryant is finishing off a turkey sandwich and french fries, looking forward to going home.

His wife said she is grateful for patient care volunteers such as Fletcher, who chat with patients, run small errands for them, such as picking up magazines, whatever they need.

"I admire people like that who give their time freely because they're giving of themselves with nothing in return and they could be doing a lot of other things," said Katherine Bryant, 66.

North Arundel started a patient-care volunteer program in 1994 to pair hospital volunteers with patients to help them feel more comfortable.

A bespectacled man of medium build with light blue eyes, white hair and mustache, Fletcher, 62, is a retired longshoreman and the program's first volunteer.

A bright red jacket with the hospital's name scrawled in cursive white lettering identifies him to patients.

On Thursdays, he makes rounds for six hours in the intensive care unit.

Fletcher, who received the hospital's Volunteer of the Year award this year, said the work is its own reward.

"It's self-satisfying and it makes me feel good about myself and I think most people want to feel good about themselves and volunteering is one way to do it," he said.

Fletcher is one of three patient care volunteers who work in intensive care. The program also has 22 other volunteers.

Together, the volunteers devoted 21,739 hours from last July to this June helping patients and staff in almost every department of the hospital, from radiology to human resources. Volunteers are assigned to departments based on their interests.

"Not everybody wants to come to ICU because it's difficult to see people who are very sick," said Diane Clodfelter, the critical and coronary care units nurse manager.

Come every Thursday, however, and that's where you'll find Fletcher. He started volunteering after he retired nearly two years ago and found he missed being around people.

"I am humbled to be with these people," said the father of four and grandfather of six. "I leave here sometimes emotionally strained, especially when someone young is very sick and the prognosis isn't very good. Other times I leave here feeling good because people are recovering from their illnesses. It's like a roller coaster. You have your yin and yang. But life is a lot like that."

But on most days, Fletcher said, he leaves the hospital with a good feeling. At the end of a difficult day, he slips into the pool at his home in Pasadena or reads a book to unwind.

Then the next Thursday, he's back at the hospital again, doing his usual.

To volunteer, call Terri Shaffer at 553-8050.

Pub Date: 7/17/96

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