A pleasant encounter with a discharge volunteer during a personal, and long-ago, hospital experience first set Jim Bahler to thinking about becoming a hospital volunteer.
He recalls the man as being “very cordial.”
“That kind of put the thing in my mind,” he says.
Several months after his May 2003 move to Moore County, Bahler felt settled enough to start looking into volunteer opportunities for himself.
uring his interview with Cindy Strother of Guest Services, the question of what he might like to do came up. Bahler answered quickly and has been a discharge volunteer ever since.
That was in January 2004. Since that time, Bahler has contributed nearly 1,400 hours to Moore Regional in an area he describes as “the happy side” of hospital volunteering.
“Most people are happy to get out (of the hospital), and everyone usually has a good experience here, so they’re not complaining,” he says.
He recalls only one exception to that rule – a bachelor, he suspects, who had been very well cared for and didn’t want to leave.
A note from a recently discharged patient characterizes Bahler’s skills as a volunteer. “I was wheeled downstairs in a wheelchair by Jim, a volunteer who was Very (the writer’s use of capitalization) friendly and sent me on my way,” the writer said.
In nine years of volunteering, Bahler has become familiar with almost every area of the hospital – “everywhere except Reid Heart Center,” he says, but especially the Outpatient Center, the Patient Tower parking deck, the main hospital lobby and, to a lesser degree, the Emergency Department.
He can’t begin to estimate the number of miles he has covered behind a wheelchair, but knows there have been many, even though the intensity of the work has changed throughout the years. Five years ago, he says, he might have assisted with 15 or 16 discharges during his three-hour Thursday morning volunteer window. Now that most discharges take place in the afternoon, however, the number has dropped to three or four a morning.
Still, he believes that he and the hundreds of others who volunteer at Moore Regional are giving back to the community, especially in terms of the money the hospital saves by assigning so many support jobs to volunteers.
“It really is pretty phenomenal,” he says.
An Indiana native, Bahler studied engineering at Purdue and worked as a senior program manager with Lockheed Martin in California and Northern Virginia. He and wife Betty were introduced to North Carolina golf country in 1991 by friends who owned property in the Longleaf community of Southern Pines. They visited the area two or three times a year before building their own retirement home across the street from their friends.
The Bahlers, who will celebrate 46 years of marriage in June, have three daughters and five grandchildren. Aside from volunteering, Bahler enjoys golf and “gadgets.”
“I like to play with iPhones and iPads,” he says.