Adelisa Perez-Hudgins, MSN, RN-BC

New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute

From Adelisa’s volunteer experience with the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (Quality Institute) she joined on as a full-time employee. There she heads two major community health initiatives, the Mayors Wellness Campaign and Conversation of Your Life. The Quality Institute enjoys a close relationship with their volunteers, especially the student nurses. The Quality Institute’s community health initiatives focus on vulnerable populations. Without the commitment of their volunteers, including nurse volunteers and student nurse volunteers their ability to connect and provide support and education to the community would be significantly impacted.

Adelisa noted that through their relationship with NJAC, the Quality Institute has benefited with many volunteers. The volunteers are compassionate, often go above and beyond what is asked of them and are excellent at one-one interactions. According to Adelisa, volunteers often follow-up with the residents on their own time, providing dedicated time to answers to questions they are be asked. “You can just feel the passion coming off all the volunteers”. Adelisa also commented that it is wonderful to see the students’ potential growth along with their leadership skills.

It is only through volunteers that the Quality Institute has been able to reach vulnerable populations in15 counties throughout New Jersey. The Quality Institute is always looking for volunteers and wants to expand their reach to additional communities.

When discussing the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the Quality Institute’s work Adelisa shared that the Quality Institute had to quickly adapt to a virtual world. Their printed resources are now available online but in a shorten more manageable version. Much of their programing is available through virtual means; Podcasts and Webinars. Some volunteers are looking into ways to connect with local television stations to present the COYL programs to a wider audience. Additionally, area nursing homes are providing access to Facebook Live streaming for some of the programs. Still reaching vulnerable populations remains difficult in some areas as these populations may not have access to the necessary technology. Adelisa made a special note that this is where volunteers have been greatly helpful. They know their local communities, their local healthcare workers, and the resources in their communities. A number of other organizations have opened their doors to their community to allow them access to computers; Catholic Charities and local libraries are among them. Then there’s the tried and true method of phone contact that the volunteers are making with their community. Adelisa commented that most people, nowadays have access to a phone.

One final note: “With volunteers we can really amplify our message”.