By Madison Burke
If you walk into Boone Hospital Center’s lobby, you may see Charlie Gibbens extending a warm smile while wearing his signature volunteer red vest. He’ll probably ask you if you need any help finding your way and offer you a hug if you look like you need one.
“People always tell me how Charlie comforts them when they need to go to the hospital,” his wife, Jean Gibbens, says. “Charlie just has a way of telling when people are nervous and comforting them.”
Charlie may be known as a volunteer now, but his connection to Boone Hospital began decades ago, when he first moved to Columbia.
“We moved here from Iowa and had my youngest daughter here, a month and a half after we moved. I think that’s when we first felt really a part of the hospital,” says Charlie.
A few years later, friends and family encouraged Charlie to run for the hospital board of trustees. He won and served two terms.
“I really care about the hospital and worked hard to do what was best for it and our community,” says Charlie.
When he decided to retire from the board, he knew he still wanted to serve in some way, so he became a volunteer.
“I love to help people, and I love this hospital. Anything I can do to try to make people’s visit here be comfortable, I do,” says Charlie.
When Charlie was hospitalized with cancer few years ago, Charlie and Jean say they felt the love from everyone at Boone.
“Everyone already knew Charlie and were so worried about him. I remember I called in to schedule a test for him, and the nurse on the phone asked ‘Is that our Charlie?’” says Jean. “So many people would stop by and ask how ‘their Charlie’ was doing.”
When Charlie recovered and the Stewart Cancer Center was being built, Charlie and Jean donated a nurses’ station through the Boone Hospital Foundation.
“The oncology nurses were so good to us, we just wanted to give back,” says Charlie.
Charlie and Jean are advocates of the Boone Hospital Foundation and say that donating to it is a beautiful way to help patients.
“The Foundation is so important. It provides funds for things that make patients’ stay here as comfortable as possible,” says Charlie.
Some of the things the Foundation provides are free health screenings to the community, scholarships for caregivers to further their education, heart and lung pillows for cardiac and pulmonary surgery patients, and supportive and palliative care for patients.
To learn how you can support Boone Hospital Foundation, visit boone.org/foundation.