There’s more to Graham Regional Medical Center’s Auxiliary than their matching pink shirts.
Interesting fashion sense aside, the auxiliary brings in a substantial amount of revenue each year to help purchase equipment while promoting community involvement with the hospital.
To accomplish this, they not only run the GRMC gift shop, but volunteers literally log thousands of hours to help support babies, the sick and the elderly. They host events like the annual Health Fair, which has increased in attendance from 200 to more than 1,200 over a span of almost 20 years. The Chalupa Luncheon, held each fall, and the Auxiliary LifeSaver Christmas Card Fund, held in December, also bring in money used to purchase life saving hospital equipment that GRMC otherwise couldn’t afford.
Jane McNatt, who has served in the auxiliary for seven years and was last year’s president (Carolyn Stroud will take her place this year), said that 2013-14 was an amazing year for the auxiliary. The Chalupa Luncheon brought in $14,436, the GRMC gift shop received more than $100,000 in sales and the Christmas Card fund raised $5,100 in just three days. With these funds, the auxiliary was able to purchase a portable sonogram machine and two oxygen monitors, among other essential equipment.
The auxiliary has 214 members, 17 of whom are inactive, as well as 12 charter members and 171 life members.
“We did 8,976 volunteer hours for those 214, that’s how many hours we gave free to the hospital, which I thought was amazing,” McNatt said.
Those hours are spent volunteering time assisting doctors and nurses in GRMC’s maternity ward, assisting with mammogram screenings provided through Moncrief Cancer Institute and GRMC, working in the gift shop, working the No One Dies Alone and No One Stays Alone programs at GRMC and organizing and working at fundraising events and serving coffee, juice and tea to employees at GRMC.
“We work with moms and babies when they’re born,” McNatt said. “We answer the phone, rock the babies to sleep and change them. We pretty much will do anything that the hospital will ask us to do. We are working on getting a memory garden built, and it will be strictly through donations. It’s not going to be tax funded, and it will have bricks and little places to sit. We’re working on that.”
McNatt, who previously served as the administrative assistant at GRMC for almost 20 years, retired Feb. 15, 2013. She said that in addition to giving back to the community, the auxiliary’s other responsibility is to provide support during a tumultuous time.
“Right now there is a lot of tension with the hospital district, so our job is to ease the uneasiness and resistance to change and keep our smiles going,” she said. “We want to make it positive, and we’re going to make this hospital work. We want to show that we are behind the hospital. Do I like the tax? No. Am I going to pay it? Yes — because if I have a heart attack or slice my thumb open, I would like someone to be there to fix it.”
Read more in Wednesday's Graham Leader.