By John Williams
CEO of Barton HealthCare System
In recognition of National Healthcare Volunteer Week, April 27 through May 3, I'd like to take a moment to honor some frequently unsung heroes in our community: The dedicated volunteers who make up the Barton Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.
Auxiliary members offer many essential benefits to the hospital in various capacities. They staff the hospital's Front Desk; provide assistance in the Emergency Room; assist in the Skilled Nursing Facility; operate the Gift Shop in the hospital lobby; and sell thousands of â€œpreviously enjoyedâ€ items in The Attic Thrift Shop, the Auxiliary's major contributor to its funds.
Barton's Auxiliary began even before the hospital was created. So, first a bit of history: Nearly half a century ago, 24 Charter Members of the Barton Memorial Hospital Auxiliary had a vision. The year was 1960 and the vision was that of a community hospital for our mountain township.
Three years later, after endless work and fundraising, Barton Memorial Hospital became a reality.
Two years after that, South Lake Tahoe became an incorporated city on Nov. 10, 1965.
Today there are more than 70 active, vital members who volunteer their time and talents each month to the Auxiliary's many endeavors. And there are another 60 seasonal volunteers who help out as well.
The Junior Volunteer Program has been a delightful addition, as Auxiliary members bring our younger population into the understanding of giving of their time and exposing them to the new environment of health care they may later consider as a career.
But the Auxiliary members don't just greet guests and sell items for the benefit of the hospital. They also help save lives by sponsoring a Community Blood Drive six times each year in conjunction with the Sacramento BloodSource. These crucial Blood Drives take place at the Lake Tahoe Airport and contribute important blood resources not only for our community but also for the entire region.
Members assist in the community year round with Flu & Immunization Clinics and Barton Community Health & Wellness outreach efforts to ensure that South Lake Tahoe's residents are as healthy as possible.
Auxiliary members are an active, enthusiastic bunch. They host popular Book Fairs in the hospital, they offer the festive Holiday Faire each November and don't forget those tasty Famous Cheese Balls they create and sell each holiday season.
A lot has changed since 1960 but not the dedication of Barton's Auxiliary members. Since that first year and to date they have donated more than $5,405,200 to our community hospital.
That's $5.4 million and still counting.