Press Release

AHA Honors Four Hospital Volunteer Programs

WASHINGTON (April 7, 2015) – The American Hospital Association (AHA) will honor four hospital volunteer programs with its Hospital Awards for Volunteer Excellence (HAVE). The AHA HAVE Awards Program is in its 32nd year and highlights the extraordinary efforts of volunteers and volunteer programs and the positive impact their contributions have on the patients, hospitals, health systems and communities they serve.

The winners fall into four categories: community service programs; community outreach and/or collaboration programs; fundraising programs; and in-service hospital volunteer programs. Recipients of this year’s prestigious award hail from Minnesota, Iowa, California and Michigan. Representatives from these winning programs will receive their awards at the HAVE Awards Breakfast on Monday, May 4, during the AHA Annual Membership Meeting in Washington, D.C.

 The 2015 HAVE winners are:

Community Service Programs

“Fairview’s Youth Grief Services”

Fairview Health Services – Minneapolis

Fairview Health Services, a nonprofit, academic health system, operates Youth Grief Services, a community outreach program designed to provide essential emotional support to youth and families struggling with the death of a loved one.

Since 2000, Youth Grief Services has provided significant grief support through its core programming to more than 3,000 people. In 2013, Youth Grief Services staff and volunteers provided direct services for more than 250 grieving children and teens, as well as the adults who care for them. Another 300 youths and adults received email and telephone support or took part in a community education session.

The program began when a group of school social workers, counselors and faith community leaders recognized the lack of available resources to support young people and families through the trauma of losing a loved one. They formed a volunteer community coalition with leadership from the Rev. Elizabeth BJ Larson, senior chaplain at Fairview Ridges Hospital. Fairview provided space and support for the program and the Rev. Larson has served as its executive director since Youth Grief Services began.

Today, Youth Grief Services offers a range of support and education options—including support groups, telephone triage and a summer camp for grieving children and teens. It also provides grief education and presentations for schools and other organizations interested in learning more about childhood grief and how to support grieving children.

Community Outreach and/or Collaboration

“Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP)”

UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital—Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

For 25 years, the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) has provided free counseling to Medicare patients and caregivers about Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplement plans, billing and claims issues, Medicare fraud and abuse and long-term care insurance. 

This service is provided by highly trained volunteers whose goal is to serve Medicare patients by helping them make decisions about their insurance, providing information to compare Medicare and insurance plans, assisting with enrollment in Medicare prescription drug plans and assistance programs, and understanding the bills they receive for their health care. 

This program is a community collaboration involving UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital, local nursing homes and assisted living communities, the State of Iowa Insurance Division and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Iowa started SHIIP in 1990 in response to the statewide need for senior health insurance information and St. Luke’s Hospital has grown to be the state’s largest site. 

The SHIIP Office at St. Luke’s consists of the manager of Volunteer Services, the Volunteer Services secretary, eight reception desk volunteers, five data entry volunteers, four office support volunteers and 14 volunteer counselors. All volunteers must complete training on a continual basis. Counselors undergo an intensive six-day initial training and assignment shadowing on Medicare and Medicare programs to enable them to provide quality service.

Fundraising Programs

Tails on the Trails Walk-A-Thon”

Tri-City Medical Center—Oceanside, Calif.

The “Tails on the Trails Walk-A-Thon” was held at Guajome Lake Park in Oceanside, Calif, to promote community outreach for Tri-City Medical Center and the Tri-City Hospital Auxiliary and fundraising for the hospital and local non-profit organizations. The event included  exhibitors, demonstrations, live music, food, and drawings for prizes donated by local businesses.

The event drew 400 people and 250 dogs and had nine sponsors and 28 vendors and exhibitors, including three non-profit service-dog organizations and a rescue-adoption organization.

More than $7,000 was raised; the proceeds benefitted the children’s outpatient rehabilitation unit at Tri-City Medical Center, the pet therapy department, and the Special Care Foundation for Companion Animals for Cancer Research. The walk-a-thon was an opportunity for dog owners to stay healthy and active by spending a fun day walking their dog(s) in the park.

In-Service Hospital Volunteer Programs

“Victory Band”

Detroit Veterans Affairs Healthcare System—Detroit

Since June 2012, the collaborative effort between Voluntary Service and the Jams-For-Vets Project has been music to the ears of military veterans receiving care at the Detroit VA Medical Center (Detroit VAMC). The partnership uses music-centered programs to influence therapy and enhance the quality of life of patients in the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center (PRRC). A growing body of evidence is showing that music therapy can improve symptoms of psychosis and enhance interpersonal communication for patients with severe mental illness. Working collaboratively, Jams-For-Vets volunteers and PRRC therapists have taken a group of diverse individuals with varying levels of musical talent and transformed them into the “Victory Band.”

The Victory Band members have learned to work as a team and demonstrate improved social skills and leadership, resulting in newfound confidence to expand their community integration activities outside of the band. They have learned to use music as a coping skill to manage their emotions and symptoms.

On the first Monday of every month in the medical center’s main atrium  the Victory Band performs pop favorites for patients awaiting their appointments. This exposure has allowed family and friends to experience a sense of pride in their loved ones’ accomplishments and has served as a catalyst to break down the stigma often associated with mental illness. As members of the band, the veterans are no longer defined by their mental illness, but rather view themselves and are viewed by others as a group of talented musicians.

The Victory Band also has helped with Detroit VAMC community outreach efforts, performing at numerous events and providing evidence of the Detroit VAMC’s therapeutic value to the community.

About the AHA

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at

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