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Worthington Regional Hospital Auxiliary celebrates 45 years of volunteer work

WORTHINGTON -- For hospital patients and staff members at Sanford Worthington Medical Center, pink jackets are always a welcoming sight. They're worn exclusively by volunteer members of the Worthington Regional Hospital Auxiliary, which is celebr...

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Worthington Regional Hospital Auxiliary members Jeanne Goettsch (left), Aldyne Robinson and Val Correll are pictured in front of the Auxiliary gift shop. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - For hospital patients and staff members at Sanford Worthington Medical Center, pink jackets are always a welcoming sight.

They’re worn exclusively by volunteer members of the Worthington Regional Hospital Auxiliary,  which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year.

The service organization was founded in 1972 by Phyllis Seisler and Jan Johnson. It started with about 20 members and steadily grew - that number now sits at 140, with nearly half of members active.

Auxiliary volunteers help the hospital in a myriad of ways. They includes raising money for various hospital needs, assisting hospital staff and providing patients and their loved ones with services, gifts and someone to talk to.

All the volunteers have one thing in common -- they got started because they wanted to help.

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Jeanne Goettsch has volunteered with the auxiliary since the early ’90s. Prior to that, she worked at the clinic for more than 30 years.

“I was really proud of the hospital and the care that we gave,” Goettsch said. “So, when I retired, I decided that would be a way to keep doing it.”

It’s a similar story for 12-year member Val Correll, who found herself appreciating auxiliary members while frequenting Sanford to visit loved ones.

“I’d see those pink jackets around and they make you want to give back, because they gave so much for us,” Correll said.

The auxiliary has 28 different committees for all of its different volunteer initiatives. Most active members join a handful of committees for things they are passionate about.

The auxiliary’s most recognizable venue is its gift shop, located in Sanford’s front lobby. Volunteers rotate shifts at the gift shop, which sells souvenirs, food and other items with all profits going to the auxiliary.

The auxiliary hosts fundraisers to raise money as well, including two jewelry sales and one cookie sale every year. It uses that money to give back to the hospital and its patients. Recently, the auxiliary packed 100 goodie bags full of toiletries helpful for patients undergoing cancer treatment.

“Every new patient at the cancer center gets a special bag when they leave,” said Aldyne Robinson, a longtime auxiliary member who started in 1986. “The radiologist in the cancer center thought it would be a good idea to get them things they need.”

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The auxiliary also purchased traveling briefcases and oximeters to make the job easier for home care nurses, and made a financial commitment to help connect the same-day surgical anesthesia and postanesthesia units to the hospital’s electronic medical record.

“Hospital staff will say what needs they have, and if we have the funds, we’re more than happy to supplement those funds or actually go out and buy the things they need,” Correll said.

Another auxiliary initiative is its scholarship program. Every year, it gives out two $1,000 scholarships to Minnesota West students or hospital staff pursuing higher medical education.

Auxiliary members put in more than 5,000 man-hours volunteering last year. Part of that went toward producing 460 baby caps and 280 heart pillows. Volunteers also spend hours serving coffee in the morning, helping nurses with paperwork, providing hospitality, running programs and even valeting.

 

The volunteer hours take significant pressure off of hospital staff and budgets.

“It would take a lot of actual staff to replace all of the hours they’re putting in,” Correll said. “It would take a full-time staff person for the coffee area, the gift shop, for a lot of these things.”

The auxiliary’s longtime members have put thousands of hours into their volunteer work, but they all agree that it’s been worth it.

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“I have enjoyed it for 30 years and intend on keep on enjoying it,” said longtime volunteer Bernice Camery. “It’s something I think is very worthwhile and very rewarding.”

Those interested in joining the auxiliary can call auxiliary coordinator Holly Sieve at 372-3305. Although there are no men currently active with the auxiliary, they’re welcome to join.

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