by Erin Wegner
From 1989 until his retirement in December 2012, Rod Hartwig had been Boone Hospital’s Payroll Manager for 23 years. Before he officially retired, Rod wondered what he was going to do with his free time. He had been a member of the Kiwanis Club for over 40 years and one thing he’d always liked to do was volunteer.
Knowing he wasn’t ready to leave Boone, Rod filled out an application to become a Boone Hospital volunteer. He says, “It was hard to get away!”
Rod started volunteering in February 2013. He volunteers in the hospital’s Admissions area, escorting patients and guests to their destination in the hospital. On any given day, he will walk people from the front desk to Radiology, the Cath Lab or the Harris Breast Center.
Volunteer services at Boone Hospital Center started in 1954 when the Pink Ladies of Boone County Hospital Auxiliary was formed. The group formed as a way for volunteers to take over duties that had previously been done by nurses. The Auxiliary included Pink Ladies who were considered active workers and charter members who paid a $1 annual fee to be a member. Any woman in Boone County could join as an Auxiliary member.
The Pink Ladies wore pink pinafores, a plain white blouse and white shoes with rubber heels. Similar to the volunteer duties today, the Pink Ladies had various duties throughout the hospital:
- Pick up mail from the post office and deliver it to patient rooms
- Deliver flowers and plants to patients
- Daily patient rounds with the Pink Ladies Cart – a cart that was full of candy, stationery, novelties, magazines, blades, toothpaste, stamps and newspapers – and the Book Cart, filled with recent books and old favorites thanks to a cooperation with the Columbia Public Library
- Read or write letters for patients
- Take pictures of new babies for parents
- Rent television sets to patients for $1 a day. Television sets were donated to the hospital. Act as receptionists during hospital visiting hours. (Back then, visiting hours were from 1 to 2 in the afternoon and 6:30 to 8 at night)
- Run the Gift Shop
- Care for plants in the hospital lounges
- Care for landscaping and planting shrubs around the hospital grounds
- Decorate hospital rooms and lounges during the holidays
By 1971, the Pink Ladies also offered bedside phone rentals and operated vending machines. They had additional help from the Candy Stripers, who were teenage volunteers.
Similar to how the Foundation supports the hospital today, the Pink Ladies raised funds by using the proceeds from the Gift Shop, the Pink Ladies’ cart, baby picture sales, television and phone rentals, and yearly membership dues.
“We have women calling all the time who would like to be Pink Ladies. We really feel that we are contributing to the community and to the hospital. It is very gratifying work,” said Mrs. William Jenkins, head of the Pink Ladies.
In 1979, the Pink Ladies and Candy Stripers were renamed to Volunteers and Volunteens, respectively. Currently, Boone Hospital has 125 volunteers which includes adults, college ambassadors and Volunteens who are between 14 and 18 years old.
Though they’re no longer required to wear a uniform, volunteers continue to provide services at the hospital which include:
- Delivering flowers and cards to patient rooms
- Delivering newspapers to waiting rooms and patients
- Printing and delivering e-cards to patients
- Running the gift shop
- Acting as a liaison between staff and families in hospital waiting rooms
- Escorting patients to their testing locations
- Visiting with patients and loved ones in the hospital
- Making coffee
The process to becoming a volunteer includes filling out an application, scheduling an interview, providing a background check and a drug screening at the hospital’s Employee Health Office. After an applicant has passed all of these steps, they are given an orientation of the hospital and volunteer office.
Martha Johnson, the manager of the Volunteer Office, has noticed the need and desire for volunteers continues to grow, as more departments in the hospital have reached out to her wanting volunteers. She says, “More departments want to use volunteers to help our patients and families find their way around the hospital and enhance communication."
She adds, “It’s interesting that we get calls from current employees asking if they can also volunteer because they want to give back to the hospital. It’s amazing!”
Rod loved being an employee at Boone and loves being a volunteer just as much. He says, “I always knew I wanted to come back to Boone to volunteer because I knew there would be a place for me. I’m grateful for how Boone’s been to me. It’s been a highlight of my life.”
For more information about Volunteering at Boone, visit our Volunteer page or call 573.815.6047