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La Grande Observer 12/22/14

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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Wallowa Memorial Hospital Auxiliary: History of helping dates back to 1952


Wallowa Memorial Hospital Auxiliary: History of helping dates back to 1952

ENTERPRISE — The Wallowa Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, perhaps one of the most energetic and vital organizations in Wallowa County, recently donated $3,000 to the hospital to help purchase equipment for testing the hearing of newborn babies. The non-profit organization, well known for its efforts in support of the hospital and care center, has contributed to the purchase of a mammogram machine, a percussion machine, lift chairs and various furnishings for the emergency room, kitchen and nursing stations.

The auxiliary has contributed gift baskets, magazines, a DVD/TV and a Wii video game console to the care center, located in the old hospital in Enterprise.

Trainings, conferences, educational materials, updated operation manuals and transportation costs are also on the list of needs the auxiliary has filled.

Founded in 1952 by a group of volunteers including Grace Thompson and Hazel Johnson, longtime local residents, the auxiliary began as the Friends of Health Care Volunteers.  The first recorded donation by the volunteers was $300 given to the nursing home to remodel the main shower room.

Hospital Administrator David Harman said the auxiliary has contributed nearly $120,000 in donations since its inception.

Initially, the volunteers worked with patients in the hospital reading and replenishing refreshments in the rooms. Because of changes in patient confidentiality policies, concerns around controlling the spread of dangerous viruses and liability issues, the auxiliary members no longer aid patients on the hospital floor, said auxiliary President Patti Maier of Joseph. The main purpose of the auxiliary now is to raise funds to support identified needs of the hospital’s various departments and staff.

Maier said each request for assistance is identified, documented and reviewed by the hospital administration before it comes before the auxiliary membership for approval.

The auxiliary gift shop in the hospital lobby is the main source of income for the organization, said Vice President Nancy Chesley, whose duty as vice president is to coordinate volunteers to man the gift shop and perform inventory and restocking of gift shop merchandise.

A much-anticipated shipment of See’s Candies recently arrived and is available for purchase in the shop along with a good selection of books, knick-knacks, furnishings, craft kits and children’s activity books.

The gift shop was developed in 1993 and started out as two display cases loaned to the group by Ted Hayes of Joseph. Those who still remember the old hospital will recall the tiny room at the top of the stairs in the entry hall that comprised the auxiliary gift shop. Under the guidance of then-President Nora Stangel of Enterprise, the gift shop became a reality and the bylaws of the Health Care Volunteers were developed, creating a more formalized organization. The gift shop is manned entirely by auxiliary volunteers from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Other fundraising activities include a crafts table at the Joseph Christmas Bazaar, which they enter every other year. Auxiliary members make the items sold at the bazaar.

The group holds three to four bake sales per year; the next one is scheduled for April 22 in the hospital lobby, just in time for Easter. They have conducted book sales, jewelry sales, Mary Kay cosmetics sales, and raffles.

Fundraising activities are not the only endeavor of this group. They are responsible for setting the tables for the annual Hospital Dinner and Auction, the main fundraiser for the hospital. They give of their time to bake sugar cookies to deliver to the care center for the patients there to decorate for Easter. They supply treats and serve at the Christmas and Easter parties at the care center. They serve lunch at the senior meal site at Community Connection in Enterprise the third Monday of every month and $50 is donated from the auxiliary to Community Connection toward the medical transportation program.

Seeking to share information and address concerns of the group, Harman, the hospital administrator, spoke to the auxiliary volunteers gathered at the March meeting. He gave a background and overview of the proposed residential care facility tax levy for the county that will appear on the May ballot. Harman fielded questions from the group and assured them that a registered nurse will be on duty 40 hours a week, and on-call the rest of the time. The cost of care is anticipated to be less than that available at the current care center.

Harman said the location of the residential care facility is still not confirmed, but negotiations are ongoing and it will be close to the new hospital.

The auxiliary received clarification on why the current care center will close June 30 and why it is important to have a facility to replace it. Harman asked the volunteers to share the information with everyone they know, especially the fact that one of the tax bases funding health care in the county will end June 30, so the levy that will appear on the May ballot will not be a third tax — it’s intended to replace the expiring levy.

“You have a stake in this community. You’re believable. They’ll listen to you,” Harman told the group.

After the meeting Maier, the auxiliary president, said she couldn’t speak for the membership, but that she is in favor of the levy and many of the members spoke favorably of the proposal.

Maier said there are about 30 active volunteers in the auxiliary and more are always needed.

Those interested in joining the Wallowa County Health Care District Auxiliary can come to the meetings on the last Friday of every month and complete an application or call Maier at 541-432-3770.

Members from Wallowa include Bonnie Westhoff and Sue Smyth. Enterprise members are Gloria Bainter, Jeanne Barth, Irene Bates, Mary Lou Brink, Glenda Carmony, Diana Collins, Bev Connolly, Arlene Herbst, Vesta Jacobs, GG Johnson, Marlie McFetridge, Patti Maier, Delores Muncy, Louise Nuss, Jane Oertly, Linda Rice, Sonja Ritz, Sharon Sherlock, Gloria Smith and Erika Stein. The Joseph roster includes Nancy Chesley, Diane Cowden, Angie French, Charlotte McCoy, Joan McGinnis, Jeanne Northon, Marvel Patterson, Beth Reed, Judy Ross, Linda Sisk, Vivian Tillman and Retha Walker.







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