'I missed it so much': Volunteers return to St. Mary's hospital for the first time in 18 months

St. Mary's General Hospital welcomed back volunteers on Tuesday after an 18 month hiatus due to the pandemic.

"It was great to be back again," said David Copeland, who has been volunteering at the hospital for 15 years.

Copeland works at the greeter desk inside the hospital's main entrance.

"I help show people to different departments, I help discharge patients and any errands for staff," he said. "It’s a great position to have because you know you are helping things run more smoothly at the hospital, so it's very meaningful and you feel like it's a great accomplishment to help everybody out."

St. Mary's is welcoming back its roster of more than 300 volunteers gradually.

"We are so happy to be able to welcome back the volunteers," said St. Mary's General Hospital president Lee Fairclough. "We have been reaching out to people and seeing who is feeling comfortable coming back. Of course, people are vaccinated that are coming back."

She said volunteers add "a warmth to the experience of the hospital."

"I'm so glad, extremely happy. I loved coming here every day on my shift," said volunteer Sylvia Koch. "I loved it and I missed it so much."

Koch said while some things are different because of the pandemic, a lot has stayed the same.

"People are just more at ease I think knowing that we are there and we are able to take them where they need to go," she said. "They don’t have a hard time finding their way around the hospitals themselves. We are just glad to be able to help them that way."