BY TOM LAVIS
Dolores “Dee” Roth of Lower Yoder Township considers her volunteer work at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center’s Joint AdVentures program to be a godsend.
Undoubtedly, the multitude of patients who have undergone hip and knee replacements there think the same way about her.
Roth received her 3,000-hour service pin Saturday at the hospital’s volunteer recognition dinner at Sunnehanna Country Club in Westmont.
The milestone places Roth into an elite club of selfless volunteers serving the health center.
Roth, 85, began volunteering in September 2004, which was the same time the hospital formed Joint AdVentures, a joint replacement surgical unit on the orthopedic floor.
Her late husband, Francis, died in 2003, and volunteering was a way to get involved with meaningful work and helping others.
Roth said her volunteer work has been an enjoyable learning experience.
“I now help with some computer work and assist with organizing paperwork that benefits the patients,” she said.
That includes compiling the material used in a detailed guidebook that outlines the joint replacement surgical process, beginning six weeks before surgery and continuing for up to a year after the procedure is performed. The easy-to-use homework kit, including videos, details recommended exercise routines and wound care.
On Wednesdays and Thursdays, Roth drives herself to the medical center to lend a helping hand.
The unit averages from 16 to 18 knee and hip replacements a week.
Prior to each surgery, patients have a chance each Wednesday to take part in a seminar to discuss the procedure with physical and occupational therapists and anesthesiologists.
“I find helping people to be a true blessing,” said Roth, who has been a lifelong member of Zion Lutheran Church, 613 Locust St., downtown Johnstown.
“When people attend this seminar, it helps lessen a family’s anxiety.”
Roth is an advocate for the orthopedic unit because she was a patient herself after undergoing a knee replacement six years ago.
“I did the exercises they suggested prior to surgery and I was back volunteering after five weeks,” she said.
“I had the other replaced three months later and each surgery went well.”
Roth also is a breast cancer survivor.
Her secret to enhancing her longevity is staying busy.
“You have to keep active,” Roth said.
She takes part in the Silver Sneakers walking program Mondays and Wednesdays at the Greater Johns-town YMCA.
“I go for one hour a day, and if I don’t attend, I can tell the difference,” Roth said.
Her energy transcends age. Roth’s work ethic shows that she is not ready to stop and she possesses a vitality that is an inspiration to others.
Sharon Kaseler, the physician assistant overseeing the Joint AdVentures program, is grateful to have a volunteer such as Roth whose life experiences often come in handy when dealing with patients, their families and employees.
“Because she has had knee replacements herself, she is a great example of what it can mean to a person’s well-being and Dee is a comfort to patients,” Kaseler said.
“Her genteel demeanor and affinity for people make her an asset to the hospital.”
Roth is always on the move, a subject that hasn’t escaped Kaseler.
“I often tell her that she runs rings around everyone else,” Kaseler said.
“She is an inspiration to all of us.”
Prior to volunteering, Roth worked at F.W. Woolworths in the Westwood Plaza for 33 years, where she was a supervisor in the women’s apparel and infant departments.
Her Thursdays are dedicated to helping serve a luncheon as the unit’s patients gather.
She starts at 9 a.m. and works until the luncheon is complete.
“We serve either a tuna or a smoked turkey sandwich along with a fruit cup, chips or pretzels and a beverage,” she said.
“It’s a nice time for the patients to get to share their experiences because they share many of the same hurdles.”
Roth is the mother of two children, daughter, Linda, and son, Richard.
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