ROCHESTER — Not all angels of mercy get paid or wear candy stripes.
Woodlawn Hospital in Rochester serves its population of patients with significant help from the volunteers of the Women’s Woodlawn Auxiliary.
The auxiliary currently boasts 28 members. “We have been up to 50,” said Deb Paxton, the hospital’s director of community relations and foundation. “Woodlawn opened in 1905 and the auxiliary has been helping almost since the inception the hospital.”
The number of volunteers fluctuates with the migration of snowbirds in the winter, but Paxton said the hospital can always use more volunteers, who serve from one day a month to a couple times a week. “We have one volunteer shift, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” said Paxton.
Opportunities for volunteer service are many and varied. Auxiliary members, which include a few men, staff the gift shop, get patient files ready for nurses in the oncology clinic on Wednesdays, bring in books, staff the information and reception desk, push wheelchairs, deliver flowers and newspapers and stock the gift shop with greeting and get well cards.
“From the hospital’s perspective, these volunteers are an integral part of the service we provide to our patients and their families and visitors,” said Paxton.
“They are met with a friendly smile, given assistance, and if the volunteer doesn’t know the answer to a question, he or she will go to someone who does know, saving the patient hassle and runaround.”
Paxton lavished high praise on the volunteers. “Their sense of responsibility, loyalty and dependability is unmatched. For receiving no pay, it is amazing what these women do,” she said, citing “fundraisers, calling and getting things arranged and purchasing patient care related items for most of the departments that get cuts in their budget.”
Prospective volunteers must contact Paxton at (574) 224-1179 and submit to a criminal background check, provide proof of immunization, get a flu shot, undergo an annual TB test and sign a statement of confidentiality. Applications are available at www.woodlawnhospital.com/docs/volunteerapplication.pdf.
The hospital provides all testing, flu shots and annual training for airborne pathogens, HIPAA regulations, safety laws and local codes and procedures.
Cheryl Downs, auxiliary secretary, said her 7 years of involvement “allows me to give back to the community more in a group than I could as an individual.”
“The reason I volunteered is because, when I lost my husband, I got sick at the viewing and they brought me here,” said Bonnie Overlander, the auxiliary’s president.
“They didn’t think I would make it through the night, but I was here two weeks. I just wanted to do something. I felt this place saved my life and I wanted to give back.”
“I think it serves as a PR promotion for the hospital,” said Joyce Sroufe, treasurer. The auxiliary also provides $5,000 to $10,000 scholarships for Fulton County students interested in pursuing education in the health care field.
The group’s work subsists on donations and fundraisers. Four times a year, the members work at the Rochester Dairy Queen, cleaning tables, sweeping the floor and greeting customers. In return, the auxiliary receives 10% of the restaurant’s sales from 4 p.m. to closing. They will be at Dairy Queen again in September.
They conduct a three-day silent auction the first week in December and gift shop open house the weekend before Thanksgiving.
For more information, call (574) 224-1179.