Beckley VAMC counting on volunteers to keep services intact while COVID numbers rise

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – The Beckley VAMC has altered its process for getting veterans into their appointments.

In order to limit the amount of people inside the building, it’s increasingly relied on volunteers to get veteran patients in and out in an efficient manner.

“We couldn’t do what we do at Beckley VA Medical Center without our volunteers,” said Beckley VAMC Chief of Voluntary Services Brie Lehew. “Right now we have 400 volunteers on staff and they come in at various times. If we didn’t have them, the services that we offer to our veterans would be reduced.”

Many, but not all, of the VAMC volunteers are veterans and a collective mindset has allowed them to grow in their roles.

“All of the volunteers are here because they want to be here,” said Beckley VAMC Ambassador James Pritt. “They want to serve the veterans and work with this hospital. They’re a mass benefit to this hospital.”

One of the key areas where volunteers have stepped up is in the actual transportation of patients, keeping visitors to a minimum.

“The volunteers augment us to try to get the patients all throughout the hospital,” Lehew said. “It really is critical. The veterans go in for their appointment and they immediately come out of the hospital. It’s nice to have the volunteers to be able to help us with that burden, to get them in and out and keep them safe.”

Because of what its volunteers have been able to do, Beckley VAMC is finding a way to continue doing what it does.