Leo Puhalla began volunteering in February of 2020 with the coffee cart at Mercy Health – St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. He would visit hospital guests and serve them refreshments. However, he didn’t serve in this role for long as volunteering activities were suspended due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020.
“After volunteers were permitted to return, I began volunteering in medical administration,” Leo shares. “Today, I currently work in supply chain, where I help satisfy supply demands throughout the hospital and sort materials from opened crash cart trays.”
When asked what his favorite part of volunteering is, Leo says, “it’s knowing that my work is making a difference and helping the hospital combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Looking back at a time a patient inspired him, Leo remembers connecting with a patient on a personal level. He visited their room to serve refreshments and had a conversation.
“When I said that I want to become a physician, the patient said their son is a physician,” he recalls. “They said it is a difficult path, but it’s greatly rewarding. They then told me a little more about the son’s journey to becoming a doctor. This inspires me today to continue to work hard in school and to continue my volunteer work.”
Overall, Leo greatly appreciates the wonderful opportunities that volunteering with us has provided him.
“Throughout the past two years, I have always felt like a member of the St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital community,” he says. “As an aspiring physician, it is important for me to gain experience working in a hospital setting. Volunteering has allowed me to do this.”
Volunteering has also allowed Leo to accumulate service hours for the Youngstown State University (YSU) Honors College. When scheduling for the next semester at school, he was allowed the flexibility to choose a weekly volunteer time that worked best for him.
“Above all, I feel as though my contributions through volunteering are greatly appreciated and my presence is welcomed,” he adds.
Outside of volunteering with us, Leo is a senior premedical student at YSU. He is involved in many clubs on campus, most notably the YSU Chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). Leo also works as a peer tutor at YSU, holding sessions in chemistry and biology classes. He will be enrolled at the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) this summer.
In Leo’s free time, he enjoys watching sports like soccer and football, spending time with friends and family and playing with his dog, Scout.
Learn more about our volunteering opportunities at Mercy Health.