Volunteering at the Virginia Mason Bailey Boushay House, a skilled nursing/hospice facility with outpatient resources, has been a challenging but fulfilling experience over the past year. This facility is primarily geared toward providing intensive long-term treatment and end-of-life care to patients with HIV/AIDS, ALS, Huntington's, and complex cancers. The outpatient program for individuals with HIV is open seven days a week and now operates round the clock as an overnight shelter for many of the clients dealing with homelessness who often face discrimination in other shelters due to their HIV status. Many clients also suffer from and are able to access treatment resources for a range of psychiatric conditions.
During my time here, I have participated in a variety of activities, the highlight of which has been assisting a music therapist with group sessions. It has been an opportunity to work on validating patients' experiences, reinforcing their presence and participation, facilitating mindfulness through music, and more. Spending time chatting with residents about our lives, watching their favorite shows, sharing a meal, painting nails, or just holding someone's hand is always a highlight of my week. I don't often take time off from school and lab related activities, so to have this time to be fully present with those in the Bailey Boushay community is rewarding; I feel as though I get back the energy that I put into volunteering here.