Volunteers support patient care at Grand Rapids children’s hospital

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — At Corewell Health, volunteers are an integral part of filling in the gaps of an overtaxed health care industry.

Porter Beilfuss is one of those volunteers. He’s a first-year medical school student at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, studying in Grand Rapids. When he’s not wearing his white lab coat, he’s wearing his purple volunteer polo.

“When you start medical school, the first two years, the recommend keep an open mind, try lots of different things,” Beilfuss said. “In my eyes, there’s nothing more important you can do than to serve others.”

One of the ways he is exploring what his future in health care looks like is through volunteering at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Porter Beilfuss, a first-year medical student, is also a volunteer at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids. (Courtesy)
Porter Beilfuss, a first-year medical student, is also a volunteer at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. (Courtesy)

“I remember coming to Grand Rapids for the first time last February to tour the (MSU medical school’s) Secchia Center and I saw the big blue children’s hospital across the street and I knew that’d be a neat place to do some service,” Beilfuss said.

Alyssa Cosier, the volunteer coordinator for the children’s hospital, said helpers like Beilfuss are crucial in the hospital’s day-to-day operation.

“They (doctors and nurses) don’t have time in their busy shift to sit and play with these patients, do the things that volunteers do,” Cosier said.

“I really do a variety of tasks,” Beilfuss said. “I start my shift here normally in the play room. There’s normally a big pile of toys that need to be cleaned.”

Volunteer Porter Beilfuss helps tidy up in the playroom at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids. (April 2024)
Volunteer Porter Beilfuss helps tidy up in the playroom at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. (April 2024)

There’s a lot more for him to do, like playing games with patients, returning books to the on-site children’s library or holding newborn babies.

In addition to helping others, he’s getting an up close look at his future.

“It is amazing to see the doctors and nurses at work and to kind of observe the care that they’re doing and that’s definitely something I’ve been learning as a volunteer,” Beilfuss said.

For four hours a week, volunteers wear purple shirts and fill in the gaps that allow the health care wheel to keep spinning.

“I think for me, it’s just a wonderful reset of whatever troubles I’m having at school, whatever tests I have coming up, it’s nothing like the battles these kids are fighting. It’s just a nice mental reset for me,” Beilfuss said.

This week is National Volunteer Week. Corewell Health is always looking for more help. Information about opportunities can be found online.

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