FAQ

AHS VOLUNTEERING - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The section below will help answer many of your questions about volunteering at the Alameda Health System.

Getting Started

Q: Who can become a volunteer? 
A: Volunteers with Alameda Health System must be 18 years of age or older and out of high school, understand what good customer service is, and be able to present themselves in a professional manner.

Please note: the AHS Volunteer Program is not set-up to accommodate court-mandated community service hours.

Q: What is the time commitment?
A:
We require a commitment of 12 consecutive months for all of our volunteers. The 12 month term starts on the day you receive your AHS ID badge.
The minimum commitment per week is one four-hour shift, to be completed during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm).

Q: How do I get started?
A: You have the option of either downloading and printing out the application from the “Volunteer Intake Process” section of this website to fill out, or coming in to the Volunteer Office to pick up and fill out the application in person. We recommend you read carefully through the entire “Volunteering” section of the AHS website to make sure you understand the program before you apply. Once you have filled out an application, you can either turn it in to the Volunteer Office in person, or you can mail your application to the Volunteer Office (address is listed in the “Volunteer Intake Process” section of the website).

Q: I’ve turned in my application. What happens next?
A: If you have mailed in your application, we will notify you of its receipt within 48hrs of receiving it. Once we have reviewed your application, we will call you to verify the information you have provided us with. We will then call to schedule an interview. Please review the “Volunteer Intake Process” section of this website for further details.

Q: What is the average turnaround time from the interview to receiving my AHS ID badge?
A: Most volunteers are able to complete the intake process and receive their AHS ID badge about one month from the date of their volunteer interview – much quicker than most other hospital volunteer programs!

Q: How can I speed up the intake process?
A: The easiest way to speed up the intake process is by getting a head start on completing your Health Screening. We recommend that you begin gathering the required health information/documentation as quickly as possible, as well as look into getting the tuberculosis tests or chest x-ray and symptoms review. Please refer to the “Volunteer Intake Process” section of this website for further details.

Q: What is the volunteer orientation?
A: All prospective Alameda Health System volunteers are required to attend a Volunteer Orientation before they can begin working at any of our facilities. The orientation is approximately 4 hours long, and will introduce volunteers to the AHS mission statement and vision, detail the volunteer intake process, and explain what your responsibilities as a volunteer. The orientation also details important policies and procedures, including health and safety information, dress code, and attendance policy.

Q: What do volunteers at Alameda Health System do?
A: Volunteers with AHS do a lot of different things, from clerical tasks to mild patient care work. Descriptions of some of our departments can be found in the “Volunteer Opportunities” section.

Probationary Volunteer Hours

Q: What is Probation?
A: The Volunteer Probation period is the first 100 hours you work after you get your badge. We require that volunteers complete their probation period during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, from 8am-5pm). During those 100 hours you will be working in a non-patient care area, mostly in a customer service or clerical environment.

Q: Why do I need to complete a 100 hour Probation period?
A: The probation period serves three purposes. First, it gets you acclimated to the hospital environment and accustomed to the facility you work in. Second, it helps give you a chance to decide which department you want to go into when you when you are finished with your probation. Lastly, it gives us a chance to evaluate your commitment and dedication to the program before recommending you to a patient care area.

Q: Is there minimum length of time in which I can complete my probation hours?
A: Probation hours can be completed no sooner than 10 weeks into your service as a volunteer. If you finish your probation hours before you have been a volunteer for 10 weeks, you will have to remain on probation in the minimum 4-hours per week until you have reached 10 weeks of service.

Time Commitment

Q: Why is there a time commitment? 
A: In order to continue to have as strong a program as we have here at AHS, we need to make sure that our volunteers are all fully committed to being a volunteer, and up to the demands of volunteer service.  As such, we require a minimum commitment of 12 months to ensure that the people who we bring on genuinely want to volunteer and are willing to put in the time. We also feel that by requiring the 12 month commitment, we give the volunteers the best chance to get the most out of their experience since we only ask for one 4-hour shift per week.

Q: May I volunteer more than one shift per week?
A: Yes! Though our minimum requirement is only the one 4-hour shift per week, you can work as many days or shifts per week that you would like. During your probation the maximum is 16 hours per week to prevent people from going through their probation period too quickly. We have many non-probation volunteers who work 20 hours per week, and a couple who even do 40! We only ask that you try not to over-extend yourself, and only ask to be scheduled for an amount of hours that is feasible for you to complete each week.

Q: Do I have to stop volunteering after my 12 months commitment ends?
A:
Once you have honored your 12 month commitment you are free to leave the program (provided you follow proper policy in letting us know you intend to leave), however that definitely does not mean you have to leave! We are open to, and encourage, volunteers to stay on long-term if they’ve enjoyed their time with AHS. We have people currently who have been volunteering with AHS for over five years!

Health Screening

Q: What is the Health Screening?
A:
The Health Screening is completed after you have attended an orientation. Once you have compiled the required records and tests, you will need to make an appointment with Employee Health Services so they can look over everything and clear you.

Q: What are the required documents and tests?
A:
The Health Screening requires the following:

Ø  Documentation of two 2-step tuberculosis skin tests (TST) performed elsewhere. One can be within the last 12 months; the 2nd test should be current within the last 3 months.  AHS can provide the second TST if needed, provided you have proof of the first test. However please be aware that this may delay your volunteer start date.

o    For anyone with a documented history of a positive TST, a chest x-ray done within the last 12 months will be needed. A chest x-ray may be obtained at your primary care provider's office.

o    The QuantiFERON (QFT) blood test may be used in lieu of the 2-step TST if your primary care provider offers it.

Ø  Proof of immunity, either by immunization records showing the full series of vaccines and/or blood test/titers, must be provided for the Measles (rubeola), Mumps and Rubella.

Ø  Proof of immunity, either by immunization records showing the full series of vaccines and/or blood test/titer, must be provided for Varicella (chicken-pox).

Ø  Though not required, those with records of the Hepatitis B vaccine series and Tetanus, Diphtheria, Adacel Pertussis (Tdap) should bring copies to have included in their file.

Ø  Influenza vaccine is mandatory for all active volunteers during the flu season (November 1st-March 31st

Q: How do I prove that I have the required immunities?
A: We ask for copies of your immunization records for proof of immunity to Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. If those immunities are not shown in your records, or you are unable to get your records, a simple blood test/titer can be performed by your doctor.

Immunization records can be used to show immunity to Varicella (chicken pox) if you received the vaccine from your primary care provider. If you had chicken pox as a child, or were vaccinated but it is not in your records, AHS will require a blood test/titer to be performed by your doctor to prove immunity.

Q: Does Alameda Health System cover the cost of the Health Screening?
A:
Alameda Health System does not cover the cost, nor do they provide any blood tests/titers, x-rays, vaccines, or other required procedures. Employee Health Services may perform one TST, provided you already have documentation of the first test. During flu season, Employee Health may also provide incoming volunteers with a flu shot provided they obtain all other required documents beforehand.

Q: What is a two-step tuberculosis skin test (TST)? How long does it take?
A:
A two-step TST is a simple test to check for previous exposure to tuberculosis. The first part is a small injection done just under the skin of your forearm. After waiting 48 hours, the nurse handling your test will “read” your skin test to determine whether the results were positive or negative for exposure.

Q: How long do I have to wait to get my second TST?
A:
You can get your second TST done no sooner than one week after your initial test was read.

Q: What do I do if I know I test positive? Will I have to get a chest x-ray?
A: A positive TST is not uncommon. When you have a positive TST, you will need to get a chest x-ray if you have not had one within the past 12 months. To be cleared for your health screening, you will need proof of the positive TST, the negative chest x-ray, and a short symptoms review.

Other Common Questions

Q: Do you offer volunteer opportunities in [insert department here]?
A:
We offer volunteer opportunities in multiple departments within the Alameda Health System framework. However, there are some places we do not currently staff with volunteers.

We do not offer volunteer placement in the following departments:

Ø  Medical Records/Medical Coding

Ø  Accounting

Ø  Intensive Care Unit

Ø  Dental

Ø  Sterile Processing

Ø  Phlebotomy

Ø  Diet/Nutrition

Ø  Housekeeping

Ø  Pediatrics

Ø  Psychiatry/Substance Abuse Counseling

Ø  Security

Ø  Dermatology

Ø  Social Services/Financial Counseling

Ø  “Baby Holding” programs

A brief list of what we do offer can be found under “Volunteer Opportunities”.

Q: Does the Volunteer Department handle internships/externships?
A:
Volunteer Services does not handle internships or externships. For information on internships/externships please visit the Student Placementpage.

Q: Can I volunteer with AHS to gain experience as an MA/RN/etc?
A: No. Volunteers are not allowed to use any medical licenses or certifications they may have for liability reasons. All volunteers, regardless of license or status, are required to adhere to the same restrictions.

The AHS Volunteer Program does not accept people who only wish to volunteer in order to complete required hours for classes, externships, residencies, or pre-entry requirements for school programs. Only applicants who are committed to the full 12 months and understand the limitations of being a volunteer will be considered.

Q: Will volunteering at Alameda Health System help me get a job or residency placement at an AHS facility?
A: Volunteering with Alameda Health System will not help with employment or residency opportunities. Applicants who are only interested in volunteering because they are looking for employment at an AHS facility, or are applying for residency at an AHS facility, will not be accepted.

For AHS employment information, please visit the Careerspage.

Q: Which facilities are included under the Alameda Health System banner?
A:
Alameda Health System currently consists of five hospitals and four wellness centers:

Alameda Hospital
Eastmont Wellness Center(Oakland)
Fairmont Hospital(acute rehabilitation and skilled nursing, San Leandro)
Hayward Wellness Center
Highland Hospital(Oakland)
Highland Wellness Center(part of Highland Hospital)
John George Psychiatric Hospital(San Leandro)
Newark Wellness Center
San Leandro Hospital

Q: Where is the volunteer office located?
A: We are located at Highland Hospital, Old Building 1st floor, wing A-1, rooms 12 & 14. The easiest way to find the A wing is to enter the hospital through the main 31st Street entrance, and take the elevators down to the 1st Floor. When you get to the 1st Floor, take a left in the main hallway and follow the corridor through the automatic door and through the double-doors. Look for A wing to be on your right-hand side. Enter A wing and follow the hallway to the end, and room 14 will be on the right.

Volunteering is fun, rewarding, and an essential part of Alameda Health System. We look forward to you joining our program!

If you have questions about volunteering or completing the application, call the volunteer office at (510) 437-8363.