Boug ‘fits’ right in

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 16, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Volunteering at River Parishes Hospital is not work, according to Leo Bourg. “If it was, I would quit,” laughed the LaPlace resident. He looks upon his duties as the highlights of his day.

The retiree assists people in the Surgery waiting room while their loved ones are in the Operating Room.

Bourg knows firsthand the apprehension and anxiety felt by those trying to patiently await for news of their loved ones.

“Seven years ago, I had bypass surgery (not at River Parishes Hospital),” he said. “There was no one around to give information to my wife, Polly, while she was waiting.” He knew, at that time, that when he retired, he would help out at a hospital.

When he did leave his career at a local engineering firm, he applied to River Parishes Hospital and asked for duty in the Surgery waiting room. It so happened that someone was needed to man the desk in this room – the fit was perfect. That was three years ago.

“I really enjoy meeting people here at the hospital, and then seeing them again and again in the community,” said Bourg. “I also run into old friends, and former classmates from Leon Godchaux High School.”

Fresh coffee is always available in the waiting room, as well as a kind word from Bourg. “The presence of a volunteer in this room has a calming effect.” he said. “Many people tell me how nice it is to have someone to talk to.”

Confidentiality is of utmost importance in the Surgery waiting room. To that end, families are given a Guest Number when they arrive. Bourg’s duties include keeping waiting room visitors informed of what’s happening in the operating room. “Every so often I go in to check with the nurse, and then report back to the family.” When giving news, he refers to the visitors by their Guest Number.

Since patient names are kept confidential, no information is given over the phone. Bourg tells the callers that they must contact a family member or designated person to receive details.

When the surgery is over, the doctor comes out to talk to those waiting for news of their loved one’s condition.

The dedicated volunteer says it makes him feel good that his efforts are appreciated by the visitors. He has seen many of them after their hospital visit, under different conditions, when he is out and about in the community.

“I tell people here that I hope to see them again – but in someplace other than the hospital.”

For information on volunteering at River Parishes Hospital, call Claudette Henry at 651-1482.