Auxiliary carries on volunteer tradition

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— When Yampa Valley Medical Center Auxiliary started in 1946, it was a volunteer organization of doctors' wives. It was social organization as much as it was a way for women to lend a helping hand.

A similar tradition continues today, with a wider range of volunteers from every corner of the community.

Many of the volunteers at Yampa Valley Medical Center are retired women who dedicate their free time to fundraising for the hospital and running the many blood drives.

As of July, the auxiliary had 92 members.

"It has really grown in the last two years," volunteer services coordinator Heather Rose said.

The numbers have increased as the opportunities to volunteer have increased, she said.

The hospital recently started two new programs for volunteers: Day Surgery Support and Kiddie Kuddlers.

The Kiddie Kuddlers program has been the most popular thus far, Rose said. The biggest responsibility? Snuggling babies.

GrandKids Child Care Center in the hospital serves 10 infants but only staffs two teachers. The duties can become overwhelming. Volunteers have a choice of two, two-hour shifts a day.

"Everyone loves that program," Rose said.

Though they still have volunteer openings, the auxiliary is rarely in need of helping hands.

"We live in that kind of community where people want to help," Rose said. And in the tradition of the auxiliary, it is not only a place to serve the community, it is also a way to meet other people.

The Auxiliary hosts four social functions a year.

Every volunteer must go through an orientation, a health screening, a criminal background check and training in their chosen department.

"You are working with people who are vulnerable," Rose said. "We can't be too careful. The truth is that patient care comes first and volunteers need to be highly trained."

The Auxiliary has one orientation a month.

Another volunteer program runs only in winter. Help at Hand is a job for the nurturer. Volunteers work in the Emergency Room during ski season.

"They do a lot of hand holding, getting blankets, contacting hotels and finding family members," Rose said. "They add all the extra touches that staff members do not have time to do."

Help at Hand volunteers give out special Steamboat bears to the children. "That is their trademark," Rose said.

The Auxiliary also organizes the 9 News Health Fair and the annual Rubber Ducky Race that takes place September.

To join the Auxiliary, volunteers need to fill out an application available at the Yampa Valley Medical Center or by calling Heather Rose at 870-1146.

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