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Volunteers returning to Franciscan Health will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning

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LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- After 16 months Franciscan Health in Lafayette is welcoming back volunteers. However, due to the pandemic, there will be some changes. Some volunteers are eager to get back. 

"I missed it," said Judy Koontz a volunteer of 6 years.  "I guess more than anything I just missed not coming in and being with people."

So far the hospital is welcoming back 120 volunteers all of which have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning.

"Many of our volunteers are higher risk so we wanted to make sure that they would all come back safely in that they do have a vaccination," said Lisa Green the Volunteer Manager at Franciscan Health Lafayette East.

For that reason, the hospital is welcoming back volunteers in phases before they start looking for new volunteers.

"Once we get those brought back in the phases starting with phase one which is our gift shop volunteers," said Green.  "Then, we will start onboarding new volunteers from the community."

However, if volunteers are looking to visit patients that's not something the hospital is allowing at this time.

"Due to the pandemic and the fact that COVID is still here we will not have any of our volunteers visiting with our patients until we feel it is safe for them to return to those duties," said Green.

Regardless of what job volunteers are performing, Koontz says it's worth every moment.

"Several of the employees came in and the first thing they said was 'Oh we are so glad to see you back' and for them to be so appreciative of us just makes you feel good," said Koontz.

While volunteers are required to be vaccinated, staff members and employees at Franciscan Health are not. Franciscan says they will decide at a later date when volunteers can start visiting patients.

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