Hospital Auxiliary Turns 50
Posted on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021
Hospital Auxiliary Turns 50: The volunteer group organized on
November 22, 1971, to be ready for the hospital's opening day on
January 30, 1972. Current members marking the anniversary were
(front) Roy Jones, Mary Jones, Joanne Coble, Paulette Manning,
president, and Ron Jacobs. (back) Naomi Lornes, Bonnie
Alexander, and Lula Finch. Not pictured are Sharon Allison, Shirley
Clark, Wilma Easley, Carolyn Lucas, and Teresa Travis
The Love County Health Center Auxiliary marked its 50th anniversary on November 22, 2021. The group of community volunteers organized a few months before the hospital (now doing business as Mercy Health/Love County) opened.
They were there on opening day, January 30, 1972, to assist with the ceremonies, at which Governor Dewey Bartlett spoke, and give building tours.
For 50 years in a row, auxiliary members have been providing hands-on volunteer work on site and raising money to support hospital efforts. In the early days, they were known as “Pink Ladies” for the pink-colored tunics they wore. Today, they wear blue vests or jackets and men are members, too. (Anyone age 18 or older may volunteer).
Paulette Manning, a retired RN, is the group’s president. She said one of their current concerns is seeing that patients who come to the hospital in an emergency have clothing to wear during their stay and after they are discharged. “The nurses let us know what they need and we provide pajamas, neck pillows, toiletry bags, underwear, socks, sweatsuits and shoes.” Director of Nursing Marie Ross is the auxiliary’s advisor.
The volunteers own and operate the vending machines in the hospital and emergency department. They have an excellent gift shop in the lobby. In normal times, they are the go-to-place in the community for RADA cutlery and they also sell lots of purses, birthday-bears, get-well bears, jewelry, caps, and shirts. The past 18 months COVID-19 precautions in the building have left the shop dark.
A 1990s picture on the wall shows volunteers delivering a number of items to the EMS station: a generator, decontamination equipment, and heavy-duty lights for use in the field. Pictured were Kay Brintle, Mildred Burns, Sammie Lornes, Lucille Sloan, Rosa Jackson, Alice Jacobs, Betty Whittington, Shirley Carter, Lula Langston, Lee Tolleson, Enid McGehee, Wilma Easley, Irene Manning, Shirley Hicks, Rose Thompson, Dolores Harvey, and Betty Lemons.
In 2004, the auxiliary was recognized as one of the state’s top volunteer organizations by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. In a ceremony at the State Capitol, the group was cited for contributing 4,800 volunteer hours in 2003. Lucille Sloan was the president.
Notable contributions that year included $1,000 to help furnish the EMS quarters, $7,500 for hospital improvements, and several thousand dollars more for establishing flower beds and landscaping for the hospital complex. In addition the group worked with the hospital food pantry in preparing and delivering food baskets every Tuesday to dozens of local families.
Katherine Frazier of Leon was the organization’s first president, in 1971. A few years prior to her death in 2017, at the age of 97, she was asked to describe the auxiliary’s early days. “There were five or six of us volunteers to start. We wore pink tunics that we bought through the hospital. I still have mine. We delivered drinks to the patients and newspapers and books. We did clerical work for the nurses and staff. We put in vending machines as a way to raise funds.”
The auxiliary’s first gift, made in 1973, was 18 wall-mounted blood pressure gauges.
Also in 2021, the hospital food pantry marked its 20th anniversary. The service was launched by hospital and clinic coworkers in 2001. In 2002, the dedicated pantry building opened on the hospital’s east side. The charity provides food packages to 400 families a week, on Tuesdays.
The hospital is planning a 50th anniversary party for the public on January 28, 2022.