Saturday, October 30, 2004

The quiet hand

We see the good they do all around us, but we may not recognize it as the quiet work of the Auxiliary to Community General Hospital. At the 42nd annual meeting of the Auxiliary last Thursday (October 27), Dr. David Simon, Medical Staff President, gave an example of their quiet deeds.

Dr. Simon had seen patients that morning at Van Duyn Home and Hospital, our campus neighbor across the tree line. In conversation with a head nurse at Van Duyn, he mentioned that he would be speaking with the Auxiliary later in the day. The head nurse told him gratefully that, years ago, the Auxiliary helped her become a nurse through its scholarship program. Each and every year Community's Auxilians volunteer interview candidates and make scholarship awards. Over the years they have helped many join the nursing profession.

How many of us use the Gift Shop for snacks, sundries, and gifts for patients? The Gift Shop is an Auxiliary project that requires many volunteer hours for ordering, inventorying, transporting, and staffing. At the annual meeting Carol Merritt, Auxiliary President, paid special tribute to Bob Easton, who has quietly run the gift shop for decades. She also acknowledged Walt and Vera Sassman, two Auxilians who have volunteered at Community – Vera for over 40 years, Walt for more than 35. Monday was their last day as volunteers. “But we are still members of the Auxiliary,” they hastened to tell me.

In his remarks to the Auxiliary, John Scala, Director of Volunteers, cited more examples of the Auxiliary’s quiet hand in the life of Community. He spoke of Auxilians’ work in maintaining the flower beds that make the front of Community General Hospital so pleasant; he spoke of the Light-a-Light program that decorates the campus and helps families and friends honor their loved ones during the holiday season; he spoke of the Auxiliary’s annual golf tournament, its fashion show (coming December 3), and the sales events throughout the year that help employees, volunteers, physicians, and visitors shop for books, toys, clothing, linens, flowers, and jewelry.

Auxiliary fund raisers contribute to the life of our hospital, and they generate funds the Auxiliary donates for hospital care. Last Thursday Carol Merritt presented the Community General Foundation with a very generous $45,000 check for Community's new Birth Center.

Here is something quite remarkable – the Auxiliary’s gifts to the Community General Foundation’s “Pay it Forward” capital campaign more than equal the gifts from hospital directors and employees. The Auxiliary has contributed $150,000 to “Pay it Forward,” and to date Community's board members, managers, and employees have pledged and contributed some $143,000. That shows just how busy – and just how generous – are the Auxilians.

If you're doing the math, you’ve noticed that the Auxiliary actually predates our hospital. The Auxiliary’s annual meeting was its 42nd. Community General Hospitalwill celebrate its 42nd anniversary on January 1st. Dr. Simon noted that the Auxiliary became active before Community opened when the first Auxilians went door-to-door, inviting others to join them. The newly-formed Auxiliary led tours of the hospital for community groups in the months leading up to Community's opening on January 1, 1963.

The Auxilians are a big part of our hospital’s past and, as is evident, a big part of our present. In my remarks to them, I thanked the Auxilians for their constancy, and I assured them that we who work for Community are grateful for all they do. I promised that, for our part, we will continue to value, care for, and respect each patient, every day.

This text was originally sent to the employees of Community General Hospital, Syracuse, NY, as one of a series of letters from the CEO. The text was subsequently posted on the CEO's blog, More than Medicine, started in June 2007.

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