Meet Bundaberg Hospital's biggest smile

Read time

Image for Meet Bundaberg Hospital's biggest smile

When Judy Stubbs says she greets everyone who enters Bundaberg Hospital with a big smile she isn’t exaggerating.

Walking into the main entrance, it is almost impossible to miss her warm welcome.

It was a friendly and kind volunteer encounter at Prince Charles Hospital that inspired Judy Stubbs to commit the last decade to volunteering.

“When I was working as a bank manager, I would ask my colleagues if you weren’t at work, where would you be?” she said.

“I would say I would be volunteering at the hospital!”

After retiring early to support her husband with a health condition, it wasn’t long before Judy was manning the front desk, and in less than 18 months, she was coordinating the other volunteers.

“I think it has been even greater than I expected; I pictured I would be sitting with patients, but being able to chat with them and support them while showing them where to go is fantastic.”

The Red Cross Volunteers at Bundaberg Hospital often answer more than 500 enquiries a week.

“Normally, it is people saying they don’t know where to go, or a lot of the time, they are coming in to find out if their loved one is with us, they know they have been taken to a hospital but aren’t sure if they are in the right place.”

“I think this role is extremely important for a lot of reasons, but the main one is just to have that person smile at you through the door and have acknowledgement because most times people are experiencing something either because they are not well or a loved one is not well.”

“When we have our three weeks off over Christmas, the staff welcome us back with open arms because they realise just how many enquiries we take every week that they don’t have to manage.”

Judy’s optimistic outlook and passion for her role are contagious, and every enquiry is taken seriously.

“We have a lady who is petrified of lifts, but I offered to help her,” she said.

“Now, every second Monday, she comes and waits for me. I take her up in the lift, and when she is done, I will go and get her.

“We have been doing that now for five years, and she always gives us a Christmas card, so we get to make very good friendships.”

A highlight of the role for Judy is the feedback from the community.

“A lot of regulars come in and say thank you so much for that smile you have made my day already,” she said.

“It's not just about supporting people in tough times; we love seeing the pregnant women who will come in every few weeks, and then they pop over to let us meet the new baby.”