FORT POLK, La. –
Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital recognized Red Cross volunteers during an informal ceremony July 7 at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana. Hospital leadership celebrated the completion of the Pharmacy Technician and Summer Youth Volunteer programs, culminating in more than 2000 combined volunteer hours.
Lt. Col. James Kenisky, chief of pharmacy for BJACH said the pharmacy technician program provided an introductory experience to the participants.
“The program allows American Red Cross volunteers the opportunity to earn clinical rotation credits that are needed to become a board certified pharmacy technician,” he said. “The current job market for pharmacy technicians is great. There is a huge demand since the height of the pandemic and that is not expected to lessen in the near future.”
Kenisky said the pharmacy technician program at BJACH was beneficial to the hospital and military families.
“Our partnership with the Red Cross benefits the hospital by helping us increase efficiencies in mission accomplishment,” he said. “This program gives our Families an opportunity to gain experience and knowledge and gives them a deeper insight and appreciation of the services that we offer on this installation.”
Miaesha Hemion is a military spouse and was one of three students recognized for completing the pharmacy technician program during the ceremony.
“This program was a great opportunity for me,” she said. “I had been wanting to go back to school, but with small children at home it wasn’t very practical. When I heard about this program, I knew I had to apply for it.”
Hemion said the first 10 weeks was independent study with weekly testing, followed by five hundred clinical hours.
“The next step for me is to take my national exam,” she said. “I learned a lot during the program, and am so glad that I was selected to participate. I’m motivated to advance my education to ultimately become an oncology pharmacy technician.”
Hemion said volunteering with the Red Cross and participating in the pharmacy technician program was a great opportunity to help people and for her professional development.
Mandy Thomas, a pharmacy technician in the BJACH outpatient pharmacy said she worked closely with Hemion during her clinical hours.
“This was a great program for Miaesha,” she said. “I paid $22,000 in tuition when I went to pharmacy tech school five years ago. This program allowed her to get the same training I had for free.”
Stacey McLean, interim program manager for the American Red Cross of Louisiana, Service to the Armed Forces and International Services, acknowledged the efforts of each participant of the pharmacy technician and summer youth programs.
“All of our volunteers should be proud of themselves for their achievements,” she said. “This experience is an accomplishment that will follow them as they pursue future endeavors.”
McLean thanked all of the volunteers for their hard work and dedication.
Col. Aristotle Vaseliades, BJACH commander, was the guest speaker during the recognition ceremony.
“When I was approached about supporting the pharmacy tech program I enthusiastically said yes,” he said. “The clinical hours conducted during the program increased our efficiency and helped our staff tremendously.”
Vaseliades thanked all of the volunteers, the BJACH departments who supported both programs and the Red Cross for making every effort to fill needs within the hospitals whenever possible.
“The Army has seven values, one is selfless service, as volunteers you are the epitome of selfless service,” he said. “Our youth volunteers gave up six weeks of their summer vacation to explore careers in the medical field and support our hospital and staff.”
Vaseliades said in addition to the certificates of appreciation presented during the ceremony, the volunteers will be receiving Presidential Volunteer Awards at a future BJACH monthly awards ceremony.
Ciamoni Gerbier (13) a freshman at Leesville High School participated in the youth volunteer program.
“I loved working with the nurses in labor and delivery, where I was able to witness the miracle of birth,” she said. “The whole program was really fun and rewarding.”
Gerbier said volunteering during the summer was a gratifying adventure and she recommends the program to others.
“Someday I plan to be a pediatric oncologist,” she said. “This experience helped reinforce my goals to pursue a medical career.”
Arielle Martinez, age 15, reminisced about spending an entire day shredding paper while volunteering at BJACH.
“Shedding paper wasn’t necessarily the best part of my experience, but I was proud for accomplishing that task,” she said. “While volunteering I was able to sit in on a variety of patient appointments, I got to see newborn babies and listen to their heart beats. The babies were so cute.”
Martinez said a medical career wasn’t something she had considered before this program.
“I’m not sure I would like being a nurse or doctor; I’m not good with gore or blood,” she said. “But I think I might be interested in making the medicine or working in a pharmacy.”
Martinez said volunteering was a valuable experience, she had no regrets and recommends the program to others.
Editor’s Note: Individuals interested in volunteering at BJACH should email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.