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Today, my son said, “Being professional went out the window.”

We’ve been working with a local hospital and health system, setting up a volunteer opportunity for my son. He had been volunteering at this location with his former job coach, but when we terminated those services and hired our own habilitation aide to accompany him, all of a sudden there were all these hoops to jump through.

I called their volunteer department and explained the change we were making and asked if this change would be acceptable to them so he could continue to volunteer. I explained to the woman I spoke with what the responsibilities of the habilitation aide would be, that she would not be doing the job with him, but rather accompanying him on the bus and while at the hospital, in the event he needed a prompt, support, or experienced anxiety, etc. They told me this was fine with them, but she would have to complete an adult volunteer application and submit background checks as well as have a two-stage TB test and get a name badge. I asked her why all this was necessary, if all she was going to do was accompany him, she wasn’t volunteering for the health system, was just there as a support for my son. I shared with them that she had a picture ID badge from the agency we work with. She assured me this was required of everyone who came into the building regularly.

I knew that our former job coach did not fulfill their requirements, though she worked beside my son for a year in their facility.

Our habilitation aide completed the online adult volunteer application. She told me she provided her background clearances and she set up a TB test, at the work center of the hospital. When she got the TB test, she was only given a single stage test. That did not meet their requirements, so for more than a month we’ve been trying to schedule a second test, which was finally completed today.

Our habilitation aide went against my instructions and told the hospital that she wanted to volunteer, if she had to go through all the requirements and was going to be right there with him while he was volunteering, then why couldn’t she volunteer too and do the work with him? She pressured them for the photo name badge volunteers get (rather than the non-photo ID she was issued) and she told them she wanted a uniform shirt.

The hospital told her they wanted her to complete an hour and a half long orientation. That confused me, because our previous job coach never mentioned having to do an orientation. My son is certain she also had a picture ID from the hospital.

There were a series of miscommunications over the course of 3 months. I had spoken to two other individuals at the volunteer department, (every time I called someone different answered the phone and tried to instruct me, I’d explained the situation to three different people) one who represented herself as the coordinator of the program. I had a lengthy conversation with her, explaining the role of our habilitation aide, what her instructions from me, as her managing employer, were, etc. It appeared everything was worked out.

Two weeks ago it occurred to me that our habilitation aide was being paid to be a support to our son, but at the same time was “volunteering” for the hospital and wondered if that was permitted. I called the agency and asked and was cleared for her to do so, as long as she didn’t leave his side and did just what he was doing.

Last week when our habilitation aide came to take our son to his volunteer position she told me someone called her from the hospital’s volunteer department and told her she was scheduled for this Monday, to have her second TB test, get her shirt and picture badge. She said the woman she spoke to was rude and didn’t seem to understand what had been arranged by the other women we’d spoken to.

I called the hospital and left a message for the program coordinator, letting her know that in the future I would appreciate it if they would contact me, as the managing employer, when there were any questions or problems with our habilitation aide.

That afternoon the rude woman who’d called the aide the previous week called me. She informed me that our habilitation aide had been told, on no uncertain terms, that she is NOT permitted to volunteer while she’s there with my son and that she could volunteer, at another time, separate from my son’s time, that that was what she expressed to them that she wanted to do.

I explained to her that our aide did not want to volunteer separate from my son, that she had been required to complete the adult volunteer application as standard procedure and felt as long as she was there she could also work with him.

The woman talked over me and told me it had taken them 3 weeks to figure out who to contact at the agency our aide had been hired through, because it was an agency within an agency. She said they had to determine what an habilitation aide did, as they never had someone come in with such an aide before. I stopped her and explained that if they had contacted me, the person who initiated this arrangement and had spoken to the program coordinator previously (explaining about the habilitation aide), the managing employer of the habilitation aide, I could have told her who was managing our services, given her the phone number and extension, the email address and fax number. This was a fine example of why they should have been communicating with me if there were questions.

I told her it was my opinion that all the confusion was caused by the fact that whenever we called to speak to someone at the volunteer department a different person spoke to us and each of them seemed unaware of what the others had told us and the instructions they had given us. I explained to her that my initial call in December had been to explain the change in services from job coach to habilitation aide and to make sure the hospital didn’t have a problem with a different service coming in with my son. I had been under the impression since December that the health system understood what an habilitation aide did, how she would be supporting my son, etc.

This woman concluded the call by saying I need to understand that our habilitation aide could not volunteer while she was there with my son, that she would not get a photo ID which are reserved for actual volunteers and she would not be getting an uniform shirt because when she is there with my son, she’s there as his habilitation aide and not a volunteer.  I confirmed with her that this Monday, today, our habilitation aide would be completing the second stage of her TB test and that would be all that would be occurring today. She said that was right.

Today our habilitation aide called to say she got the second stage of the TB test and they took her photograph for a photo ID.

What?

Let’s review… they told me every person coming into the hospital for volunteer purposes had to complete an adult volunteer application, submit background clearances, submit to a two-stage TB test and provide documentation of a yearly flu shot.

They gave a volunteer badge without a photo to our habilitation aide and scheduled her second TB test, as well as a date for her to pick up an uniform shirt, get a photo taken and do an orientation.

They told us she wanted to volunteer separate from when our son was there because she completed a volunteer application.

They allowed her to volunteer with him for more than a month before telling us she could not volunteer with him and therefore would not get a photo ID or uniform shirt.

They took her picture for a photo ID.

My son has been saying, “This is very unprofessional.” He is right! There has been so much miscommunication, too many people speaking without knowing what others who had previously spoken had said. They had done an end-run around me, the person who hired and provides instruction to the habilitation aide, chasing down information I could have easily provided for them, had previously provided for them.

My son was right, “Being professional went out the window!”

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