Volunteers Honored For Hospital Service

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Mogollon Health Alliance volunteer Clara Bernard accepts an appreciation award from Payson Regional Medical Center CEO Chris Wolf.

Several dozen volunteers were recognized by the Payson Regional Medical Center April 23 for donating more than 10,000 hours to the hospital and improving the lives of patients.

The hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Wolf said the more than 50 volunteers work the equivalent of one or two full-time employees for the hospital every year.

“It is amazing what they do, we could not run without the volunteers,” Wolf said. “I could not be anymore proud of this group of individuals.”

The hospital was started on the volunteer efforts of Rim Country residents, Wolf said.

In the early years, a physician traveling to the area would ask volunteers to help with patients. Today, doctors still seek the assistance of volunteers in all areas of the hospital, from registration, records, copying, filing and generally assisting patients.

Clara Bernard, who has volunteered at the hospital for the last two years, greets patients going into surgery and helps with other tasks five hours every week. She said the highlight of volunteering is being told thank you from a patient.

Thirty-year volunteer Lorraine Austin, 93, said she was never interested in working for a paycheck at the hospital because she is paid daily in the love she receives from others.

“I did it for love,” she said. “We got as much out of it as we gave.”

While volunteering at the hospital, Austin met Helen Bates, 87, in 1979. Bates and Austin fostered a unique friendship that has lasted three decades. The duo say they each pick up where the other’s weakness starts. While one cannot hear well, the other cannot see well.

Both women have worked in various aspects of the hospital from holding candy sales, bake sales and arts and crafts sales to making phone calls.

“We do whatever they need us to do,” they said. Both said they plan to volunteer as long as they can.

When asked if a moment stands out from all the years of volunteering, Bates said everyone has been special, but she can remember a time when she walked by a patient’s room, heard sobbing and decided to go in. A mother was crying on the bed because she said she had not seen her son in Phoenix, so Bates consoled her the best she could.

Although not able to offer medical care, Bates was able to offer her heart to patients, which can sometimes be the best medicine.

“I have really enjoyed doing it all these years,” she said with a smile.

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