A Heart to Help: Foundation Board Member Mary Volpentest
Mary Volpentest’s voice cracks with emotion as she talks about the struggles and stress on families when their tiny babies are in Kadlec’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Her voice wavers again as she talks about the care and compassion of the staff caring for those babies.
“My first experience with an NICU was when our first grandchild spent 10 days there. My heart went out to families whose tiny babies needed this level of care. I saw how compassionate a staff can be and the importance of their work,” Volpentest said.
But it wasn’t just in an NICU that she experienced compassionate care. Around the same time, her father-inlaw passed away at Kadlec.
“If love is giving of oneself, then I’ve experienced it from birth to death through the people who work at Kadlec,” she said.
For Volpentest, it’s that combination of helping families and patients while supporting the Kadlec staff that drew her to become part of Kadlec Foundation, a place where she believes she can continue to make a difference. Since joining Kadlec Foundation as a board member three years ago, much of her work has been focused on children.
She is chair of Pediatric Champions, whose goal is to support the physical and emotional needs of pediatric patients, their families as well as the staff of the Don and Lori Watts Pediatric Center.
“We know there are things such as specialized equipment that are important, but would not be in the hospital’s budget. We want to help with that. We keep the refrigerator in the Family Haven stocked. We keep adding ageappropriate games for the children and their families. It is big things and small things, but it all makes a difference in creating the kind of pediatric center we envision,” she said.
Volpentest is also excited about the state of Washington’s approval to make Kadlec’s NICU a Level III unit, the highest level available, and allowing it to now treat most critically ill infants. Kadlec is one of only four Level III units in Washington.
“The demand for our NICU is at an all time high and we are faced with needing it to grow to meet these demands. It is the Foundation’s hope to support the building of a new NICU in the next few years and it is a wonderful project for the community,” she said.
She also represents the Foundation on the medical center’s Patient Advisory Council. “It’s wonderful. As a Planetree hospital, the focus at Kadlec is on patient-centered care, and this council is a part of that. We offer insight from a different perspective and the hospital listens to it.”
Being a part of the Foundation Board has allowed her to get a wider view of the broad range of the work of the Foundation at the hospital, from providing support for the purchase of important equipment to providing scholarships for health care students to funds for mammograms for women who could not otherwise afford the screening.
“The Foundation wisely spends each donated dollar and takes that responsibility seriously. Those who donate can rest assured that what they give to Kadlec Foundation is being used carefully,” she said.
“I have always been impressed with the warm, caring people who work with the Foundation. I’ve gained great friendships with people who are so dedicated to this community,” she said. “It’s a place where we can all give of ourselves to help.”