‘I had to stop volunteering during COVID, and that was terrible. I missed it so much.’
Gail Case, Roslyn
“I’ve always loved helping people. When I was in high school, I was a candy striper, and I really liked it. In 2000, my daughter and son had moved out of the house, and I was looking for something to do. I thought about going to a hospital and doing that again.
“Many years ago, I worked for my dad, who owned [the clothing line] Members Only, but I didn’t want a paying job. I wanted to do something as a volunteer.
“I decided I would walk into North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset and put in an application. I got a call quickly for an interview. They asked me what department I’d like to work in. Back then, I asked to help in the gift shop, and after that I worked at the front desk in the lobby, welcoming people to the hospital and helping people find where they needed to be.
“I enjoyed the gift shop, but I knew I wanted to get upstairs and work in a surgical waiting room. I wanted to walk people down to PACU, which is the recovery room, and check people in for surgery and talk to their loved ones while they’re waiting for surgery. I asked to be moved there, and they said yes.
It makes me feel terrific. Every day, it’s a different experience.
“I’ve been working in the surgical waiting room for 14 years. My job includes checking in the patients and talking to their loved ones. I also help the doctors. When they come in after surgery, I show them where the family is sitting. It makes me feel terrific. Every day, it’s a different experience.
“Recently, we had an older couple who needed to get home and didn’t know how to call an Uber, so I did it for them. That couple’s son wrote me a beautiful thank you letter. I have six awards in my house for working at North Shore Manhasset for years and for my work.
“I had to stop volunteering during COVID, and that was terrible. I missed it so much. They took us out in March 2020, and we didn’t get to go back until late winter 2022. Working in the hospital – just to give and help someone else – it’s just the biggest joy for me. I get all choked up even thinking about it!”
Interviewed by KJ Bannan