Auxiliary underpins the caring details |

Auxiliary underpins the caring details

Angie Parkison
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Submitted photo

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – If you’ve been to Valley View Hospital, you’ve seen friends and neighbors who volunteer. Some have donated time for 20 years, and others just started. Every one of them works without thought of payment or accolades.

Nearly 300 Auxiliary members volunteer in 30 different capacities.

You may find a volunteer taking a history for a blood donor, pushing a wheelchair, disinfecting a room, offering cookies, providing an attentive ear or helping someone in the medical library. They give directions for first-time visitors and check in surgery and endoscopy patients before showing them to a room.

Sometimes you’ll hear volunteers singing in a patient’s room or playing music in the hallway. Behind the scenes, Auxiliary members help in offices or knit shawls for patients.

Locals started the Auxiliary in 1955 when Valley View Hospital (VVH) opened its doors. They donated labor, raised money and kept their little hospital in the public eye.

Through the efforts of Auxiliary members, the hospital received, among other things, up-to-date lab machines, oxygen tents and a fluoroscopy machine. Thanks to the Auxiliary, patients eventually had electric beds and televisions in their rooms.

Local papers reported those improvements, along with listing the patients’ names as admissions and discharges.

In 1957, volunteers started a Walking Blood Bank, where donors would hurry to the hospital to give blood in an emergency. In those early years, volunteers tested blood types themselves. They handed that responsibility to the hospital laboratory in the 1960s.

The Auxiliary started the Connie Delaney Medical Library in 1995. Visit the website and click on “Your Health” to access articles and websites brought to you by the partnership between the Auxiliary and VVH. Or stop by the library near the third floor elevators to get help from the librarian or volunteers. Librarian Jean Winkler constantly updates web subscriptions and materials, and already offers help for cancer patients and their caregivers prior to the opening of the Calaway-Young Cancer Center.

Today’s Auxiliary members are more active than ever. They focus on providing quality volunteers and promoting health education. Besides contributing to the medical library, the Auxiliary’s medical scholarship contributions have reached $30,000 per year.

The Auxiliary raises money through Pie Day, the Auxiliary Quilt Raffle and the Heart to Heart Gift Shop.

Pie Day has become part of the Strawberry Days tradition. Savvy locals line up to pay a few dollars for a slice of pie, a cup of coffee and a chat with friends and neighbors on the Friday morning of the summer celebration.

The Auxiliary raffled its first hand-made quilt in 1988. Tickets were $1 apiece then, and remain at that price today. Volunteers will have books of tickets to sell, and the Heart to Heart gift shop will carry them again this fall.

The raffle will be held on Dec. 6, along with the Auxiliary gift shop’s stocking stuffer sale in the hospital lobby.

Jan Kaufman has been heading the gift shop for 29 years. It started as a rolling cart pushed around to patients’ rooms. By the time Kaufman became involved, it was in a tiny room off the old lobby. It is now the public face of the Auxiliary and a major fundraiser, providing a quick stop for a gift or a cheerful place where a volunteer offers comfort and kindness.

Volunteers say that spending time at the hospital fulfills a need in their own lives while they help patients and families during times of joy or stress.

As a frequent volunteer, Alice Hafner of Glenwood Springs puts it, “I’m thankful the Auxiliary gives me the opportunity to be here.”

Some feel it’s important to do something worthwhile with their time, and others say donating time to the hospital makes them feel they are an integral part of the community.

Dr. Bruce Greene, the hospital’s new radiation oncologist, believes Valley View’s Auxiliary volunteers affect staff members as well as patients.

“Seeing volunteers in the hospital gives those of us in health care a renewed perspective,” says Greene. “They remind us that being there when people need us is an honor.”

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