For someone entering for the first time, a hospital can seem like an intimidating and confusing place. A group of volunteers, known as Ambassadors, helps visitors to Mercy Carthage Hospital find their way to where they need to go.

For someone entering for the first time, a hospital can seem like an intimidating and confusing place.
A group of volunteers, known as Ambassadors, helps visitors to Mercy Carthage Hospital find their way to where they need to go.
And they don't just give you a map and point. Volunteer Chuck Erwin said they take pride in the fact that they walk visitors to their destination, making sure their visit is as pleasant as possible.
“We take people where they need to go,” Erwin said. “That's one of the plusses we hear from people we hear from the people coming to our hospital. One thing we emphasize, we don't point, like other hospitals.”
Hospital administrators thanked those volunteers with a luncheon and games on Wednesday, April 25. They also recognized a few for outstanding service to the hospital.
Hospital Administrator Scott Watson handed out awards to Greta Haan, Helen Winter and Shirley Kruger for giving a total of 1,407 volunteer hours to the hospital.
He recognized John Wampler as the Mercy Carthage Ambassadors Volunteer of the year.
“I'm very confident we don't do enough to show our appreciation for all you do for us,” Watson said. “And I'm not sure we ever could. You are, like a good marriage, our better half. You do your work out of love and kindness. You aren't driven, like some of us, by numbers, or metrics, or recognition, or salary. You do it because it's the right thing to do. For that, we applaud you and we say thank you.”
 
Volunteers needed
The Mercy Carthage Ambassadors are a group of friends helping the community, and they are looking for more people to join their group.
Stella Webb, volunteer coordinator at Mercy Carthage, said the Ambassadors are vital to the efficient operation of the hospital and the first face most visitors see when entering the hospital.
We have volunteers at the front desk, the surgery center and we have volunteers at the pain management center,” Webb said. “And then there's volunteers at the gift shop and I think with their volunteers, we're up over 70 people now. The big need is the front desk, the surgery center we can work on, but the big need right now is the front desk.”
Webb said volunteers can set their own schedule. Most only work between twice and four times a month, and some work a few times a year, but all are welcome and make a valuable contribution to the hospital.
“They have to come in and have a TB test, but the only other thing is, we need people who are courteous, that love to be with the public,” Webb said. “With Mercy, it's a big family here. We get to know everyone here, and with volunteers, Mercy Carthage is the only Mercy hospital that I've seen that gets involved with all the departments. We're involved with the doctors, we're involved with all the people. We get to know them.”

'It's a lot of fun'
Erwin has been a volunteer at the Carthage Hospital for 22 years, since the days when McCune-Brooks Regional Hospital was on Centennial Avenue before 2007.
“We're the first person they see when they come through the door and that's why the volunteers at the front entrance are so important,” Erwin said. “We have a pretty steady flow of people who come to see the doctors here. We just need people, we need people all the time here. We can always fit them in.”
Another Ambassador, Max Hill, said the volunteers are good about helping each other learn the ins and outs of the hospital.
“If someone is busy and one of us is free, we usually take the new volunteers with us and that way we can show them where and how and what we do,” Hill said. “When someone comes into the hospital, We try to figure out what they want, where they're going and how, because a lot of times they come in and they're lost. Whenever you go into a new building, you have no idea where you are going, so we try to correct that and steer them to the right department.”
Erwin said there are benefits to being a Mercy Carthage Ambassador.
“We have our lunch when we work and once a month, they have a brunch for us back in the conference room,” Erwin said. “Anything that's new or anything they think we need to know about, they talk to us about at the brunch. We've gone to several ball games in Springfield, they have tickets just for us. They get us trips to Branson. I think those are neat benefits.”
Watson said the Ambassadors have played a big role in the success of the hospital.
“From the moment a guest arrives at our hospital until they depart, an Ambassador is their partner,” Watson said. “It is impossible to overstate their importance to us. We love them.”
Hill said the Ambassadors are a group of friends that care about each other and their community.
“If you're wanting a good place to come and hang out, you won't find a better group of people than right here,” Hill said. “We all get along great, we help each other, we make fun of each other, a lot, but we have fun and we enjoy each other's company. As a rule, we have a great time here.”