Alta Bates Summit Volunteers Help Patients in Their Hospital Vote on Election Day
OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Every vote is important. We've heard this sentiment quite often this election year – and the volunteers at Sutter Health's Alta Bates Summit Medical Center are working to ensure that patients who are in the hospital on Election Day are still able to vote.
On Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 7 and 8, many patients will find themselves unexpectedly hospitalized at Alta Bates Summit's facilities in Berkeley and Oakland. From a new mother to a heart attack patient, these individuals may not have planned on being an inpatient on Election Day.
Thanks to the Alta Bates Summit Volunteer Services Department, each eligible patient who wishes to vote will be able to. This true volunteer labor of love is led by Susan Abalos, Alta Bates Summit Director of Volunteers. Because of her efforts and her hardworking volunteer team, two days of tireless work will connect hospitalized registered voters with the appropriate ballots in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Abalos has been preparing Alta Bates Summit's volunteer corps for several weeks to make this program possible. "This amounts to two fairly intense days," says Abalos, "But it's a tradition we've had and it's worth it. On Monday morning we distribute a postcard on each patient's breakfast tray, letting them know they can still vote, and giving them the information they need to contact us."
Patients at the three campuses of Alta Bates Summit will be given the opportunity to vote if they are registered voters and have not previously requested an absentee ballot. The Herrick and Alta Bates campuses in Berkeley and the Summit Campus in Oakland will have volunteers working throughout the two-day period in a complex, coordinated effort.
Volunteers have secured Absentee Ballots from the Contra Costa Registrar's Office in Martinez and the Alameda County Registrar's Office in Oakland. These will ultimately be filled out by the patients who have requested to vote from their hospital beds.
Ballots are offered in English, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Chinese. Volunteers assisting patients with completing the application or the ballots will also be able to use the Alta Bates Summit phone interpreter service for Spanish and Chinese speaking patients.
Rose Calhan, R.N., Alta Bates Summit's Chief Operating Officer feels lucky to have a Volunteer team dedicated to ensuring every eligible patient will have the opportunity to participate in this great American tradition. "Volunteers are busy, community-minded people who devote their spare time to the well-being of others. Their generous gift of their time to the medical center is invaluable. This particular project enhances the lives of our patients by providing them the opportunity to make their vote count," Calhan observed.
On Monday morning, a card is placed on each patient's breakfast tray, letting them know they can still vote, and giving them the information they need to contact the volunteer office. With the help of nurses and the cards on the breakfast trays, patients are given the number to call if they wish to vote. Here's the schedule the volunteers follow:
Monday, Nov. 7, 7:30 a.m. – 12 noon – Collect patient names and room numbers called in to the Volunteer office. Callers then receive an application to request an Absentee Ballot (there are nearly 1,000 beds at all three campuses). Volunteers visit patients throughout the medical centers reminding them they have an opportunity to vote and offer them an application.
Monday, Nov. 7, 3-5 p.m. – Trips are made to the two county Registrar's offices. During this visit, forms are used to cross check names of patients to see if they've applied for or voted with an Absentee Ballot this year and if they are currently registered voters. If they have already requested an absentee ballot, a ballot cannot be obtained. Ballots and Voter Information pamphlets will be obtained for each qualified patient.
Tuesday, Nov. 8, 10 a.m. – Personalized packets are given to each patient containing his or her ballot. Patients who need assistance in reading, marking or signing their ballot will receive that support from the Volunteer.
Over the next three to four hours, volunteer teams collect the signed ballots or help patients complete them. After all ballots are collected, they are delivered to a polling place in the appropriate county.
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SOURCE Sutter Health