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Release: Sept. 30, 1999

UI Cancer Center nurse, others recognized by governor for volunteer service

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Deborah Bohlken, an oncology-certified nurse and interim nurse manager at the University of Iowa Cancer Center, will receive the 1999 Governor's Volunteer Recognition Award for Outstanding Work by a staff member who works with volunteers. The UI College Student Leader Board and Donna Deatsch, a volunteer from Iowa City, also will receive awards for volunteer service.

The awards ceremony will take place at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, at the National Guard Armory in Cedar Rapids. Gov. Tom Vilsack is scheduled to present the awards.

Bohlken has devoted more than 20 years of nursing service to the UI Hospitals and Clinics. It is her role with the university's College Student Volunteer Program, however, that earned her special attention and the award nomination.

"Deb has been instrumental in reorganizing volunteer participation in all the cancer units," said Mary Ameche, director of volunteer programs at the UI Hospitals and Clinics. "In the process, she has developed effective communication between staff and volunteers and created an ongoing educational process for the students. Under her supervision, they have the opportunity to work alongside hospital staff doing a wide variety of tasks."

Bohlken hosts orientation sessions for student volunteers in the UI Cancer Center to ease them into the new environment, discuss situations they might face and provide guidance.

"We talk through things they might see and things patients might say," Bohlken said. "The volunteers need to know how to address issues a patient may discuss." She also holds frequent meetings with the students to keep the lines of communication open.

The student volunteers serve as companions for patients and families. They organize parties, make weekly visits to patients and become familiar, friendly faces.

It is important for patients to see "someone not in a white uniform and not discussing a medical case," Bohlken said.

A volunteer's role is valuable, added Bohlken, who considers it part of her duty to make student volunteers feel they are part of the team caring for patients at the UI Cancer Center.

"I made it my mission to help provide volunteer services on every in-patient cancer unit, because I saw a need there," she said. "I don't think what I've done is that special; I thought this is what I was supposed to do."

The College Student Leader Board is comprised of 10 to 12 students who are chosen each year from more than 500 college student volunteers. Each board member is assigned to a hospital unit and serves as a liaison between patients, students and staff. The students work with staff supervisors to define volunteer roles and assist with training.

The student members of the charter College Student Leader Board, who worked with staff supervisors such as Bohlken, will receive the Governor's Outstanding Special Program Award. Beginning in the summer of l997, these 10 student volunteers helped strengthen the volunteer structure for student volunteers at the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

As a result, the number of volunteers increased, volunteering opportunities expanded and a new volunteer training process was created. These changes have provided a framework for an easier flow of communication between the students and their supervisors, creating a more positive volunteer experience for both students and staff.

Donna Deatsch will receive the Governor's Outstanding Individual Volunteer Award. Deatsch has volunteered at the UI Hospitals and Clinics since 1981, contributing more than 5,000 hours of service to patients and their families. She has not only actively volunteered in many areas throughout the hospital but also provided substantial leadership to the program.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.