Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - January 7, 2003

Hospital auxiliary intends to shift volunteer activities

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Hospital Auxiliary - an organization older than the public hospital it serves - is returning to its roots.

Formed a couple years before the hospital opened in November 1956, the members in those days offered their labor to the infant hospital, making bandages and curtains for the facility before it even existed and then mending sheets and scrub outfits after it opened, according to Etheline Spanier, the current auxiliary president and an auxiliary member since 1962.

Spanier worked as a nurse at the hospital for 43 years, starting in 1959, and remembers the volunteer aspect of the organization, which gradually turned its efforts towards fundraising in the 1970s and 1980s as more women started having their own careers.

Now, though, with the formation two years ago of the PAHCS Foundation, whose sole goal is fundraising, the auxiliary is looking to switch some of its efforts back to volunteering. Auxiliary members will have a special meeting in the Nehring Room at the hospital - located in the northwest corner and found by entering the facility by the old emergency entrance - on Thursday, Jan. 8, at 4 p.m. to discuss the switch to more volunteering.

The plan is to start small and gradually expand volunteer efforts, said Spanier. The first volunteer program the auxiliary will try is working as greeters. These volunteers will sit in the main lobby at the clinic and will serve coffee and greet people to the clinic. They also will offer directions and be able to escort visitors to the various departments at hospital and clinic.

Greeters will be able to find wheelchairs for patients to use and will be able to take patients to their destinations, added Bev Mueller, acute care administrator for PAHCS and the administrative liaison with the auxiliary.

In order to switch to volunteering, the hospital auxiliary is going to need to expand their membership base, said Sandy Kaehler, who has served as auxiliary secretary since 1996. The auxiliary has about 110 members, but most of them work during the day, many for PAHCS, and would be unavailable to volunteer during the day. Daytime volunteers will be needed for the auxiliary to shift from fundraising to volunteer activities like greeting.

Instead of an emphasis on a half dozen projects throughout the year, the new auxiliary will be contributing to PAHCS everyday through volunteer efforts.

What the auxiliary is doing - and what it has done in the past - has helped PAHCS immensely, according to Mueller. While the auxiliary will still do some fundraising, volunteering should be very valuable. Health care organizations face constant efficiency demands, and volunteers can help with needed tasks that the organization cannot afford to pay staff to do, added Mueller.

Other auxiliary board members are: Sue Brauchler, treasurer; Phyllis Gardner; Dorothy Ruhland; and Delores Sogge.

Helping people gets in your blood, said Spanier, who hopes that a strong volunteer response for the new greeting program will foreshadow more successful volunteer efforts for the auxiliary.

The auxiliary will also have to raise funds to continue its support of the aviary at the Koronis Manor and the aquarium in the lobby at the Paynesville Area Medical Clinic. To pay for cleaning, feeding, and new stock costs about $2,500 annually, which the auxiliary plans to continue to raise by having three quilt raffles per year, instead of two.

Other annual auxiliary projects, in recent years, included a pork chop supper in March, a pillow fluff in May, a golf tourney in August, a spaghetti supper in October, and a Christmas tea and bake sale in December. Now, they plan to continue to hold the pillow fluff, golf tourney, and Christmas tea and will have three quilt raffles but plan to discontinue the two fund-raising dinners.

While the foundation - which aims to help PAHCS keep its equipment and technology up to date - plans to hold capital campaign drives and to benefit from large donations, the biggest auxiliary project was the wandering system at the Koronis Manor. Raising $23,000 over four years, the auxiliary provided the wandering system, which was installed at the Koronis Manor when that facility was remodeled a couple years ago. The wandering system prevents residents who are prone to wandering from leaving the Koronis Manor while offering freedom of movement to the other residents.

It is a classic example of the type of project the auxiliary has pursued - one that benefits residents and staff but whose minimal financial return makes it difficult for PAHCS to justify purchasing.

Other auxiliary projects include buying clocks for the entire facility; refurnishing the chemotherapy room (purchasing a recliner, TV, and redecorating); purchasing TV/VCRs for the three new birthing suites; furnishing wall decor in the remodeled hospital and new ER wing; buying a new altar, podium, and wardrobe for visiting ministers at the Koronis Manor; supplying dishes for 700 Stearns Place; buying a divider for privacy in the lab; and providing a refrigerator for occupational therapy.

Departments make requests of the auxiliary, and they try their best to fulfill as many as they can, said Spanier. "It seems like we've done something for every department," she said.

PAHCS wants the auxiliary to continue helping, only in a different way. All auxiliary members are asked to attend the meeting tomorrow - at 4 p.m. in the Nehring Room - to discuss how they can continue to help.

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community