BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Auxiliary members were celebrated earlier this week as the formerly separate Hospital and Care Centre groups joined together under the new title of the Lacombe Hospital Auxiliary.
Previously, the groups operated as separate entities with the same goal – bettering the lives of those who reside in the Care Centre, those who are visitors or patients in the hospital and the staff who aid these citizens.
Collectively, the two groups have contributed over 235,000 hours of volunteer service and have raised more than $580,000 for equipment, post-secondary medical scholarships and numerous patient programs and services.
Marianne Gustafson, president of the Auxiliary, said the event was a welcomed and necessary way to recognize the importance and dedication of the volunteers and their steadfast commitment.
“When I look around, I am just so amazed at what these two auxiliaries have done, throughout this whole facility, through the years,” Gustafson said.
“Everywhere you look – from chairs, to a fireplace, equipment for surgical and maternity wards, beds, kitchen appliances, and on and on – there are all kinds of equipment you wouldn’t expect auxiliaries would have to purchase. If they didn’t provide this equipment or support the programs, they simply wouldn’t exist.”
Over the many years of service in the community, the groups have fundraised and worked hard on behalf of the hospital residents and staff to buff up the levels of services and programs available.
“We have woodworking classes and a beauty salon that have both been completely funded through the Auxiliaries. I don’t think the public realizes that these facilities would really be quite bare without the Auxiliaries and other volunteer groups doing what they do.”
Much of the money has been raised through small bake sales and craft sales, but Gustafson said these small amounts add up over the years. The dedication of the volunteers is critical in generating successful programs for patients or residents in long-term care.
“The Auxiliary members are here because they feel they can make a difference, and they enjoy being able to see that difference around them.”
Historically, the Lacombe nursing home was overseen by a singular auxiliary, and the old hospital was separate from the entity. The hospital than needed its own auxiliary, and ultimately the two groups grew as separate groups.
Now, Gustafson said it has become more difficult for each of the groups to manage independently and so they have decided to come together under the new title of the Lacombe Hospital Auxiliary.
“Our numbers have come down in recent years, so we’ve had to come together to be able to function. With only eight or 10 people, it’s too hard to manage anymore. This way, there are over 30 of us and we are able to work with the whole facility,” she said.
The Auxiliary groups regularly fundraise through the year, and respond to requests for purchases or services by those who work or reside at the hospital.
In recent and previous years, funds from the Auxiliaries have been used to purchase wall desk units, reclining chairs for bloodwork and EKG testing, electronic beds for patient comfort, an operating room table, lights and much more.
The groups hold casinos approximately every 24 months as their primary fundraiser to provide their services to the Hospital and Care Centre.
“We all want to make a difference, but for a lot of our volunteers there is also an aspect of companionship they get from being a part of the group. It’s a social time out, but we are doing something good at the same time,” Gustafson said.
Many of the members have been a part of the groups for decades and enjoy their time working as volunteers both within and outside of the Auxiliary, taking time to get to know staff and patients throughout the facility and lend a helping hand where they can.