GLENDALE, Calif. — Hospital volunteers often come and go, but 91-year-old Dottie Longo is one of USC-Verdugo Hills Hospital’s original volunteers. She started when the hospital first opened in 1972.

“At that time I wasn’t teaching. It became such a way of life for 40 years. That’s what I did every Thursday morning,” said Longo.

What You Need To Know

  • In March 2020, USC-Verdugo Hills Hospital suspended its volunteer program due to COVID restrictions
  • Since rebooting the program, only a quarter of volunteers have returned
  • Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, commit at least 100 hours of service, and be vaccinated against the flu and COVID

She has volunteered in almost every and any role in which she could chat with people, but if you ask Longo her favorite, she’d say wheeling new moms from the delivery room.

“What I loved about that was, because I was there so long, mothers would have their babies and then those babies would have babies,” she said.

Unfortunately, in March 2020 the hospital suspended its volunteer program due to COVID restrictions.

When the program resurfaced at the end of the year, Longo's life had changed. She was grieving the loss of her husband and dealing with a few minor health issues. So, she and her family decided it was best she close that chapter.

Director of Volunteer Services at USC-Verdugo Hills Hospital, Bridget Berg, is working to bring back as many volunteers as possible. 

Prior to the pandemic, she says the hospital had about 200 volunteers, now the program has less than 50. Berg says many volunteers are college students who are applying to medical school.

“We do see a lot of turnover with volunteers who are college age, who are going back to college or perhaps schedule change,” said Berg. "We really are looking for individuals who have a steady schedule."

Another problem the hospital is running into when recruiting volunteers is that there’s still some hesitancy about working in a hospital during the pandemic.

Also the position now requires volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID.

“It’s a safe environment [and] that is of utmost importance when we bring somebody here," said Berg. "Hearing from volunteers who used to be here, some of them just don’t want to have to be in a mask all day which is completely understandable.” 

If Longo could, she’d mask up and be back volunteering in a heartbeat. 

“If I was a little more able, I’d go back but I feel maybe I’ve had my turn," she said.

The hospital also has a high school volunteer program that it has held off on bringing back due to shortage in full-time volunteers needed to help lead the students. 

Qualifications to volunteer include:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Commit to a minimum of 100 hours of service
  • Received a flu and covid vaccine

If interested you can call 818-952-2215 or email