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Auxiliary are hidden heroes at BWWMH

If you see a bright pink jacket and an even brighter smile at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, you know it’s a member of the Hospital Auxiliary. Twenty-five members make up the organization whose goal is to “assist the hospital with anything they need us to do,” according to President Carol Bell.

Each member works one weekly four-hour shift at one of the three duty stations at BWWMH: the gift shop, where members make sales, run the register and stock merchandise; and the main lobby and the outpatient entrance, where members greet, sign in and escort patients.

“We also do mundane things like provide hygiene items for people who were admitted so quickly they didn’t get a chance to pack anything,” said Jan McDonald, who is vice president of the organization.

She also said they provide juice and crackers to the oncology patients.

The shifts are from 8 a.m. to noon or noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. McDonald said the Auxiliary trains new members and works with them on shift scheduling. They just need to don their smiles and pink jackets — burgundy for the men.

“I don’t think we’d get many men volunteering if they had to wear our pink jackets,” McDonald joked.

The Auxiliary also takes care of many events at the hospital, such as the blood drive, uniform sale, masquerade jewelry sale, corporate wreaths fundraiser and love lights fundraiser. In fact, fundraising is probably the biggest service the Auxiliary provides to the hospital, since the money made goes towards the hospital and its needs.

“I’ve never known us to turn anything down that’s been requested,” Bell said, adding, “Where there’s a need in the hospital, they come to us and nine times out of 10 we pay for it.”

They also support two scholarships for students going into a medical field.

Members of the Auxiliary pay a $5 due each October. They meet on the second Thursday of each month for about an hour.

Prospective members can pick up an application and have any questions answered at the front desk in the hospital’s main lobby. From there, they will be reviewed by an executive committee, interviewed and presented to the rest of the Auxiliary. Bell said that nine times out of 10, new members join with no problem at all.

“Unless there’s something that really jumps out, we accept them and put them to work.”

The only requirement for being a member is an annual tuberculosis test conducted by the hospital.

McDonald noted that the Auxiliary is greatly appreciated at BWWMH. “A hospital member once told me that the Auxiliary is very appreciated because we save the hospital about $100,000 a year.”

Stephanie Hoggle, who is the marketer for BWWMH, is one such hospital member who praises the Auxiliary.

“We have a wonderful Auxiliary. No matter how small or how big the need is, they will try to meet it. They have purchased equipment, furniture, helped with repair, and every year they hand out scholarships to area students interested in a healthcare career. I do not know what we would do without this fun, caring group of ladies and gentlemen,” she said.

While the hospital makes sure the Auxiliary members know that BWWMH is grateful for their service through things like a discount at the gift shop, free flu shots, free access to the wellness center and a yearly luncheon, McDonald believes the true reward is the service itself.

“It’s very rewarding to help people, put them at ease and help alleviate some of their fears.”

(This column originally appeared in the Wednesday, January 17 issue of the Demopolis Times.)