Winner of 2019 Elaine M. Hill Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service Honored

Henry “Hank” Lewis was presented with the 2019 Elaine M. Hill Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service for the dedication and compassion he has demonstrated during his nearly 800 hours volunteering at UNC Hospitals.

Winner of 2019 Elaine M. Hill Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service Honored click to enlarge Hank with his award
Winner of 2019 Elaine M. Hill Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service Honored click to enlarge Hank with members of the ACC staff

Hank has been volunteering at UNC Hospitals since 2015. He started on the “Tea Cart,” providing patients and visitors with warm beverages and kind words. In early 2018 he began volunteering at the ACC Surgery Center where he escorts family members to the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) where patients just out of surgery are recovering.

Kimberly Haufler, a Patient Services Manager in the ACC who nominated Hank for the award, was keen to point out that escorting families can be a very difficult job, requiring a calming demeanor and a reassuring tone. Hank excels in this, especially when speaking with the parents of a child having surgery.

At the award dinner, several of the nurses who work with Hank regularly could not join him while he received the honor as they were still taking care of patients, but several of them sent thoughts to be shared about what makes Hank such a special volunteer. Just a few of these include:

“For years, our wonderful senior volunteers have been the first person to tell the families that the surgery is done, that the surgeon will speak to them now, and then they walk the families back into the recovery room to see their loved ones. As you might imagine this is a time of fear and uncertainty, and our volunteers are on the front lines providing reassurance”

“I love working with Hank. He brings light heartedness and fun to the ASC. He also takes his role seriously. This is a well-deserved honor for Hank!”

“Hank just “rolls” with it. Sometimes we want the parents of a crying child FAST. Sometimes we allow way too many visitors to squeeze into a small space if there has been an unfortunate diagnosis. Hank always asks if there is more that he can do, he stays late, he lets us know when he’s leaving for the day, and he remembers all our names and our duties.”

In addition to his work in the PACU and on the Tea Cart, Hank also volunteers as a compassionate companion, providing companionship to patients who are at the hospital long term with few or no visitors. He has also donned double pillows and played Santa for the last several years, bringing joy and smiles to adult patients around the holidays.

Hank makes a special addition to the PACU and is exemplary of volunteer service at UNC Hospitals. As Haufler said of him in her nominating remarks, “I wish he’d go to nursing school and I’d hire him.”

Elaine M. Hill, director of Volunteer Services from 1967 to 1990, began service at N.C. Memorial Hospital by serving refreshments at the hospital's opening in 1952. During her years of service, Hill exemplified quality patient care. She was instrumental in implementing the playroom for pediatric patients in the late 1950s, among other contributions. In recognition of her leadership, in 1990 the UNC Health Care Board of Directors approved naming the annual distinguished volunteer award in her honor.

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