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Recognizing Northwestern Medicine’s Dedicated Volunteers

More than 2,200 volunteers donate their time and talent to make Northwestern Medicine better. Each has a unique story. All are inspirational.

Four volunteers tell us what they do and why they feel called to do it.

Ellen Elpern, MSN, RN

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Six years with the Advance Directive Team helping patients and their families navigate living wills

What inspired you to start volunteering at Northwestern Medicine?

“In my personal experience, retirement was a true challenge. I had a good deal of creative energy. I sought opportunities to use that energy, along with my 40 years of experience in nursing, to make meaningful contributions to health care. I sought to maintain connections to a medical center with aligned values. The challenge was discovering opportunities that allowed me to capitalize on my individual abilities and experiences. Through the efforts of leaders in the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Volunteer Department, Nursing and Chaplaincy, I have been afforded opportunities to meet these goals.”

What keeps you coming back?

“Using personal capabilities to contribute something of value to patients and staff is rewarding.”

Adam Levy

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital

Nine months with the Universal Care Center Nursing Staff and the Discovery Program

What inspired you to start volunteering at Northwestern Medicine?

“I chose to volunteer with Northwestern Medicine because I wanted an experience in a hospital that offered the highest level of patient care. I spent my childhood receiving medical care from a Northwestern Medicine pediatrician and have been happy to find the level of care is consistent throughout the entire system.”

What keeps you coming back?

“Patient interaction alone is enough reason for me to come back week after week. While my conversations with patients are generally no longer than 10 minutes, we make a connection. People visiting a hospital may not be having their best day, so I feel it is my duty to make a stressful situation less intimidating for them.”

Amy Bouschart

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

25 Years Hosting Bingo and Trivia

What inspired you to start volunteering at Northwestern Medicine?

“Twenty-five years ago, I decided to join my boyfriend, now husband, on “The Bingo Show.” I attended school for broadcasting, so it was a perfect fit. My parents set a great example of volunteering. This allowed me to feel more a part of the neighborhood and city of Chicago. Community and giving back are key. I am heart-driven to help!”

What keeps you coming back?

“It is so much fun to interact with the patients. Many patients tell us we make their days. I’ll never forget a return patient with whom I developed a relationship. She asked me to bring Lucky Charms and I delivered. They’re also my husband’s favorite! It’s a part of who I am. My life has had many changes. My husband and I have done the bingo show together for 25 years. In 2016, we came to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for care when my husband was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease. We still host “The Bingo Show,” but are now involved with Northwestern Medicine in a different capacity. We hope our volunteering makes a lasting impact.”

David Kunes

Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital

Four Years as a Patient Transporter

What inspired you to start volunteering at Northwestern Medicine?

“I was a manager for a defense contractor and retired at 62. I was looking for a way to stay relevant. After my emergency cardiac bypass surgery at Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital, I was inspired by the care I received when I was my most vulnerable.”

What keeps you coming back?

“Patients want to feel in control of their lives, and when they’re in the hospital, they are vulnerable. I don’t know where their home is, but I want people to feel important when they’re here.”