The Greenwich Hospital Auxiliary in October announced its annual donation to the hospital it supports will total $554,000. It is to be divided into four allocations: $300,000 for a stereotactic biopsy table to identify breast cancer; $200,000 toward a five-year pledge of $1 million to support cardiovascular services; $50,000 to support pediatric services in the hospital’s emergency department, and $4,000 to fund four scholarships for high school students planning to pursue health care studies in college.
Over its 68-year history, the auxiliary has donated roughly $10.8 million to the hospital through its fundraising. Christine Randolph, president of the 535-member auxiliary, said most of the funds have come from the auxiliary’s “very profitable” gift shop in the hospital and thrift shop at 199 Hamilton Ave. in Greenwich, along with an annual fundraising appeal.
Randolph, who was elected last month to her second one-year term as auxiliary president, noted that Greenwich Hospital is not seen only as a local medical center, which helps in the fundraising efforts.
“I don’t live in Greenwich; I live in Westchester,” she said. “When I started volunteering here, it was because of the reputation and the service excellence of the hospital. We have quite a number of folks from Westchester that volunteer here as well.”
“Over 25 percent of our volunteers come from New York,” said Stacey Green, director of volunteer services at Greenwich Hospital. Slightly more than half of Greenwich Hospital’s patients come from New York, she said.
“They identify with Greenwich Hospital as their hospital of choice. A lot of times, people come into our organization to volunteer because they’ve had a really good experience with a parent or a spouse,” as a patient here, said Green. “I’ve had a lot of people come in and say, ‘You took such good care of my mother’ or ‘You took such good care of my husband that I want to give back.’ That is really nice.”
One of the most popular of the auxiliary’s services is Healing Touch, an energy-based relaxation technique used in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
“We have a volunteer coordinator who is a healing touch practitioner who is able to train new volunteers,” Green said. “She holds annual training classes and matches up the new volunteers with mentors and they go around visiting patients. It is surprisingly popular. We get lots of request for that, and if patients request it the nurses will call down on their behalf and ask for a volunteer to go up.”
Randolph said volunteers provide a variety of support outreach, ranging from conversing with patients and their families to ensure they are receiving the proper resources to providing lunch, hot coffee and warm blankets in the hospital’s inpatient and chemotherapy areas. “Some volunteers work in our home hospice program and are able to visit the patients in the home,” she said.
The auxiliary’s volunteer base is wide and varied, according to Green, and some volunteers have been with the hospital for more than four decades. “We have a lot of volunteers who are retired,” she said. “We get a lot of volunteers who are looking to make a transition into health care and want to see what it is like. We really don’t have to recruit. People know to go to hospitals when they want to volunteer, and we’re hoping that once we get them in they have a good enough experience to stick around.”
Younger volunteers who would like to pursue health care careers are also eligible for the hospital’s annual scholarships. “We participate with the Greenwich Scholarship Association every year in June, awarding scholarships to deserving high school seniors with an interest in health care,” said Randolph. “We give preference to junior volunteers, but you don’t have to be one to qualify. We have a scholarship committee that evaluates the applications.”
For Randolph, who also holds a full-time job as a Medicare counselor at the Westchester Library System’s Senior Benefits Information Center, volunteering with the auxiliary has enhanced her knowledge of the health and wellness industry. “It is an ongoing learning experience,” she said. “I feel there is an educational component of keeping up on what’s happening in health care.”