White Memorial Medical Center staff finally had the opportunity to thank several local youth volunteers as part of a first ever paid internship program launched this past summer.
Last Friday, interns from the program were presented with their $1,200 stipend check for work completed during a three-month summer Health Care Internship Program at White Memorial in Boyle Heights.
A total of nineteen interns participated in the inaugural program, and a new group is set to start on Nov. 12.
The stipend was made possible by a grant from Bank of America Charitable Foundation, and is part of the hospital’s efforts in developing the local workforce. “We have interns who are learning real world skills that can lead to a health care career path,” said Alicia Anaya, WMMC’s Workforce Development Manager.
This is the first time the hospital has been able to provide a stipend to some of its volunteers, Anaya says. The stipend is meant to defray the interns’ education expenses.
But many of the interns said they did not do it for the money. Several said they were already volunteering at the hospital prior to the internship.
The patients seemed grateful to have them around, whether it was for translation help or getting them apple juice. “They didn’t want to stop saying thank you,” said Ana Perez, 21, an ELAC student who is studying to become a physician.
They also felt especially satisfied with the fact that “we grew up here” in the Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles area and were able to help their own neighbors, and were eager to come back to work in their neighborhood after they had completed their studies.
The interaction with patients made the experience “one that I will not forget,” said Edson Rodriguez, who wants to study to become a neurosurgeon.
Rafael Buenonostro said he learned during the internship how to “bring patients from an unhappy to a happy state,” and about how to calm himself and talk to patients. He originally wanted to go into the nursing field, but he is now considering studying to become a doctor.
Three of the interns were offered jobs at White Memorial, including Bagner Gonzalez who began working on September 12. He already had an interest in going into the physical therapy field and the internship solidified that goal. “Being part of this program has shown me many great things about life and about giving a helping hand to others,” said Gonzalez who is working fulltime as patient transport personnel. He also just transferred from Los Angeles City College to study exercise physiology at Cal State Northridge.
The interns spent 10-12 hours a week, three days a week, working in different areas of the hospital, consulted with nursing supervisors, conducted patient satisfaction surveys, visited patients and offered families health education materials and referral information for community resources.