Shelby Baptist volunteers fill service voids

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Walking down the miles of hallways in Shelby Baptist Medical Center’s many facilities, it is hard to miss seeing a friendly face wearing a pink or blue jacket.

The blue- or pink-clad workers are quick to point lost visitors in the right direction, work to comfort patients’ family members and ensure the coffee pots in waiting rooms and staff lounges are always full.

“We are the pink ladies and a few good men in blue,” Shelby Baptist Auxiliary Vice President Hope Hundley said with a laugh.

For decades, members of the Shelby Baptist Auxiliary have worked on a volunteer basis to complete tasks hospital employees are not staffed to handle. Over the years, the hospital has come to rely on the volunteers’ help to provide “an extra level of service,” said Lisa Driver, manager of volunteer services and the hospital’s gift shops.

“They provide extra service we would not be able to provide without them,” Driver said. “There certainly wouldn’t be any coffee made without them here.”

The volunteers routinely give directions to lost hospital visitors, help patients fill out paperwork before they see a physician and help comfort patients’ nervous family members.

“A lot of times, we can help calm patients’ families down,” said Auxiliary Second Vice President Lois Lois. “They will be sitting out in the waiting room, and they will be worried because their family member has been back there for 45 minutes and they were only supposed to be back there for 30 minutes.

“We can’t release any personal medical information, but we can call back and say ‘What’s the holdup?” Lois added.

Last year, the 77 Auxiliary volunteers worked a total of 18,089 hours at Shelby Baptist, which is the equivalent of 104 full-time employees. If the volunteers were full-time employees, their payroll would have cost the hospital more than $320,000 in 2010, Driver said.

The volunteers said helping out at the hospital is one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives.

“Personally, my problems go away when I am here, because you are dealing with life and death issues and you get to help people,” Hundley said. “I think it’s great.”

Auxiliary President Ann Dawson said hospital staff members and patients frequently show their gratitude to the volunteer workers.

“I think it makes you appreciate the health God gives you to be able to do this,” Dawson said. “You feel that people really appreciate you, and they do.

“Nurses don’t always have time to call and check on a patient for a family member, or make sure the coffee is made,” Dawson added.

The Auxiliary also holds several fundraisers each year, such as a $5 jewelry sale and a nurse uniform sale. All proceeds the Auxiliary raises during the sales are donated to the hospital.

Last year, the Auxiliary donated more than $27,000 to the hospital, and sponsored five $2,000 scholarships for hospital staff members to further their education in the medical field.

Although the Auxiliary is currently 77 members strong, the organization is looking for more volunteers to help at the hospital. For more information about how to register for the program, call the hospital at 620-8177.