Since 1953, the Volunteer Services Council of the Texas Center for Infectious Disease (TCID) has provided tuberculosis patients with basic services that the hospital was not able to provide.
When tuberculosis was rampant in this country: men, women, and children were separated from their families and sent to hospitals throughout the country. Hospitals were located far from patients’ homes and the patients were hospitalized for months or years. The need arose to provide an array of services that are not usual to the typical hospital. Normally medical treatment took an hour or two, this left the patients with many unfilled recovery hours.
Tuberculosis treatment left many patients without financial support and placed a burden on their families to try to provide for those at home and those in the hospital.
The Volunteer Services Councils (VSC) were formed to help patients with these needs. They were armed with the task of providing services to a virtual small town of patients. The needs varied: clothing for people of all ages; educational programs for children and adults; recreational programs that taught a trade; recruiting priests, ministers, rabbis and purchasing personal hygiene or cosmetic items that surpass basic hospital issue.
As better treatment for tuberculosis became available, the number of hospitalized patients decreased, going from thousands to under a hundred. The hospitals started closing as the need dwindled, the Texas Center for Infectious Disease remains the one primary acute care on-campus facility for tuberculosis.
VSC remains active on the TCID campus chartered with the same basic purpose as in the beginning. The faces of the patients have changed but the needs remain the same and more acute. Many of the patients are homeless; the very nature of their living conditions makes them more susceptible to tuberculosis. They come to the hospital literally with the clothing on their backs and no family ties.
The Volunteer Services Council provides GED classes and is commencing computer literacy classes. VSC provides parties and cookouts for the various holidays, clothing, leather supplies for leatherwork, sports equipment for volleyball or basketball as well as checkers and puzzles. There are personal shoppers for the patients and a hair stylist who comes in once a month to cut hair at no cost to the patients.
The following report shows the outstanding job that the volunteer completed in 1998-99, and reflects the kind of work done for 45 years at TCID by VSC. Approximately 594 volunteers donated 7,248 volunteer hours to the hospital, providing a salary saving of $48,244.25 for the year. Also, $46,105.31worth of in-kind donations was received. VSC also met a variety of patient needs: 19 pairs of glasses; 24 bus tickets; 384 shopping requests; 42 birth certificates; 389 clothing orders; 196 hair cuts; 48 religious encounters; 196 stamps and 115 patient, employee, and volunteer activities.