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Teen volunteers making a difference at Fulton County Hospital

Friday, July 27, 2012

Three Salem teenagers, Dylan Young, Kirby Schrable and Dalina Perkey, are spending part of their summer working as volunteers at the Fulton County Hospital. They have filled a variety of jobs from answering telephones to typing and filing to working with the maintenance department. The teens have been praised for their dedication. Photo by Richard Irby [Order this photo]
The Fulton County Hospital believes the best employees are homegrown -- local residents who intend to stay here.

Three Fulton County youth who signed on as hospital volunteers for the summer are getting a close look at what careers are available at the facility.

"I would like to be an OBGYN physician but, if that doesn't work out, I could see myself working in a hospital pharmacy or lab," Dalina Perkey said.

Perkey, a recent Salem High School graduate, Kirby Schrable, a Salem junior, and Dylan Young, a Salem sophomore, are the first youth in memory to become summer volunteers.

"Since we've never had volunteers this young, I wasn't sure how they would work out, but they've really been an asset to the hospital," Volunteer Co-ordinator Pam Johnson said.

Perkey -- whose mother, Betty Roark, works in Medical Records at the hospital -- has helped several departments with typing, filing and sorting through old records to determine what ones are no longer needed.

"I love it. I've been learning some new computer programs. I never used Excel before," Perkey said.

Perkey will attend Lyons College this fall, as a pre-med student. She is interested in earning volunteer hours because they are often required to qualify for scholarships, and will look good on her resume when she tries to get into medical school.

Dylan Young became a hospital volunteer because his grandmother, Melba Arrington, "strongly suggested" he do something beneficial this summer, instead of sitting around playing video games.

"I like it," Young said of his unpaid job. "It gets me out of the house and keeps me out of trouble," he added with a laugh.

So far, Young has helped out in the gift shop, and worked at the front desk answering the telephone.

Kirby Schrable jokes that he asked to work on a computer but was assigned to hard labor. He has spent his volunteer days with maintenance crews -- tearing out ceilings, preparing rooms for painting and painting.

"I've gotten to know how to run a wheelbarrow real well," Schrable said, since one of his assignments has been hauling debris to the dumpster.

"The people are nice here, and I've learned a lot," Schrable added. One of his lessons is how to correctly add bags of salt to the hospital's water softener. The first time he did it, he dumped it in too fast and was splashed with water, which turned to salt when it dried. "I looked pretty funny, walking around caked with salt, that day."

Schrable's grandmother, Cora Cochran, is also a hospital volunteer. He said he hopes to attend the College of the Ozarks, and it requires that applicants show a record of community service and volunteering.

Dalina Perkey's summer proves that she is serious about a medical career. Besides her volunteer hours at FCH, she spent two weeks attending the MASH program at Baxter Regional Hospital. Under the MASH program, high school students interested in learning about health care careers attend classes at hospitals, and observe what goes on in various departments.

"I loved it. I got to see a baby being born by a c-section," Perkey said. That was especially exciting, since that is the type of medicine she is interested in. "It heightened my interest in becoming a physician."

While Perkey attended the Baxter Regional MASH program for a second year, FCH also offered a MASH program this year.

"The three teen volunteers we have had have been excellent," Johnson said. "They all approached us, and next summer we will try to recruit some more."

New hospital CEO Tony Thompson told The News that identifying youth in the community who are interested in medical careers, and encouraging them to seek careers in medicine, is one of the best ways to attract physicians and other health care professionals to hospitals in rural areas.

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