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Stan & Jessie
Stan & Jessie Solarski

When you walk into any of our three hospital sites, you might be greeted by someone who speaks your language (literally).

May I Help You?
Trillium Health Partners Volunteers maintain information desks at the primary entrances of our hospital sites to directpatients and families to the medical areas they need. And many of our volunteers, like Stan Solarski, wear pinned buttons on their teal vests that ask ‘May I Help You?’ in a second language that the volunteer speaks (Polish in Stan’s case.) Some multilingual volunteers wear two or more buttons.

Our hospitals are large with many medical areas, which can make it challenging for first-time visitors. And the $178 million reconfiguration and redevelopment of our Credit Valley Hospital site means that medical services have had to be temporarily relocated during construction. Providing guidance to patients and their families is critical to providing the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

Breaking the Language Barrier
“And when there’s a language barrier,” says the hardy Stan, now 87, “we gesture to have them follow us, and we take them to where they need to go personally.” “Sometimes we have to play the detective to figure it out,” adds Jessie, “but everything gets resolved,” she smiles.

This year the husband and wife team celebrate their twentieth anniversary as volunteers. It all began when a friend of Jessie’s suggested volunteering at our Credit Valley Hospital site. The friend had been diagnosed with cancer and was no longer able to work the help desk—she wanted Jessie to take her place. Ever since, Stan and Jessie have been faithful volunteers here, twice weekly.

Patient Volunteers
They make great volunteers in part because they understand our hospital from the patient’s perspective. In 2001, Jessie was diagnosed with cancer. She and Stan drove downtown five days a week for five weeks—25 draining trips—for her radiation treatments. It was overwhelming—the time, the traffic, the frustration—for an already overwhelming physical and emotional experience.

In 2007, Jessie battled cancer again. This time, however, care was close to home at our Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre. “It was such a relief to receive all of my care here,” she remarks. Ten years ago, Stan also received care here for prostate cancer. He chuckles and quips that the experience “was like being in a hotel.”

And it certainly added to their appreciation for patient navigation. “We understand what it’s like to be in a strange place and not know where you’re going,” says Jessie.

“I think the greatest satisfaction,” says Stan thoughtfully, “is seeing someone you’ve guided earlier, later walking out the door and waving to you and saying thank you.”

Each one in their own language.

>> Did you know that the Trillium Health Partners Volunteers has raised over $30 million for exceptional health care? Please make a donation today in honour of our wonderful volunteers like Stan and Jessie.

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