Faces of Tamworth: Tamworth Hospital Intensive Care Unit volunteer Alice Edmunds

A FRIENDLY FACE: Tamworth Hospital Intensive Care Unit volunteer Alice Edmunds answers the phones every weekend. Photo: Gareth Gardner.
A FRIENDLY FACE: Tamworth Hospital Intensive Care Unit volunteer Alice Edmunds answers the phones every weekend. Photo: Gareth Gardner.

IF YOU have ever called Tamworth Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit on a weekend, chances are, Alice Edmunds has answered.

Mrs Edmunds has volunteered at Tamworth Hospital for the past 22 years, after a cerebral hemorrhage in 1993 saw her in one of their beds.

“You don’t need rewards but you always walk in - even if there was sadness in here - you always walk out with a smile on your face because you know you’ve held someone’s hand,” she said.

The 84-year-old diligently arrives at 6:30am each morning, she’d be happy to stay all night if there was somewhere for her to watch Home and Away by the phone.

On a weekend, Mrs Edmunds might take more than 100 calls from concerned families checking up on their loved ones, she answers the door and greets each visitor with a smile.

You go home and you think, well today’s Sunday, how long until the next Saturday?

Alice Edmunds

As long as they’re honest about their numbers.

“You ask how many and they’ll say two - next thing you see it’s like a rabbit warren, they come in with 10!” she said.

“But then I bring them up to the quiet room, make them a coffee or tea and some biscuits - and I’m sort of forgiven.”

The administration Mrs Edmunds takes care of might seem small to some, but to the nurses in ICU it means the world.

ALL SMILES: Tamworth Hospital Intensive Care Unit nurse manager Samantha Gardner with volunteer Alice Edmunds. Photo: Gareth Gardner

ALL SMILES: Tamworth Hospital Intensive Care Unit nurse manager Samantha Gardner with volunteer Alice Edmunds. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Every phone call she answers means more time nurses can spend on clinical care for the desperately ill patients.

ICU nurse manager Samantha Gardner said they couldn’t be without her.

“The patients are very vulnerable here and I think what Alice gives the families is a distraction, she’ll sit down and have a cup of tea with them and make them feel comforted,” she said.

“It’s someone taking time out of their weekend to give back to the community, we’re very fortunate to have Alice.

“Through the winter we get very, very busy - a lot of our patients get extremely unwell and having Alice here helps, it helps a lot.”

A stickler for policy, Mrs Edmunds is wary of where The Leader’s photographer snaps her - she wants to make sure the patients’ privacy is maintained.

Struck down with an illness for a few weeks once, the nurses called Mrs Edmunds at home to check up on her.

“They’re allowed to do that, that’s not against the policy,” she said.

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Asked if any particular patient’s story touched her, she couldn’t pick just one.

“When they come to this place it’s hands on, I think if you’re going to be a volunteer in a place like this you have to take a deep breath when you come in, forget your cares and do what you can,” she said.

“I come back for the love of my job, the love of my team members - I love to see the patients, hold the family’s hands, I know I’ve walked out of here sometimes and I tell them I’ll say a little prayer for you and that helps them.

“You go home and you think, well today’s Sunday, how long until the next Saturday?”

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