Hospital auxiliaries provide vital support
We salute hospital auxiliaries that continue to provide vital support to hospitals in Westmoreland County, the Alle-Kiski Valley and Greater Pittsburgh.
Most have been around for more than 100 years, and their memberships, as has always been the case, consist mostly of women.
They continue to provide invaluable public service at a time when such community involvement is waning.
The Westmoreland Hospital Auxiliary and Latrobe Area Hospital Aid Society support the Excela Health hospitals in Greensburg and Latrobe, respectively.
The auxiliary for Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison serves the Alle-Kiski Valley; Monongahela Valley Hospital's in Monongahela serves the Mon Valley; and the Allegheny General Hospital Auxiliary serves Pittsburgh and its suburbs, just to name four that remain active.
They continue to help — even with health care consolidations and when other hospital auxiliaries are folding.
The auxiliaries have been invaluable to hospital functions. They help staff hospital gift shops and lobbies. They hold fundraisers that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes millions.
In Westmoreland, they contributed to the remodeling of the Westmoreland intensive care unit and Latrobe's emergency room.
The Latrobe group has pledged $250,000 toward Excela Square at Latrobe, $160,000 of which has been paid. The $40 million outpatient health care center opened in January.
Kaaren Tintori, president of the Westmoreland Hospital Auxiliary, says it acts closely with the administration. “We feel it is a partnership.”
Tintori said the Westmoreland group's members range in age from 30 to 80.
With an aging membership, the auxiliaries are eager to recruit new members. Last year, the Latrobe group lost three members but gained 10.
There are 207 at Latrobe and 90 in the Westmoreland Hospital Auxiliary.
“If you don't have new people, you're going to die,” Tintori said.
In 2016, the 70-member auxiliary at Allegheny Valley Hospital contributed $200,000 toward equipping AVH's new cardiac rehabilitation center in the hospital.
“We have a look at who needs what, and we try to share the wealth as best we can,” said Pam Lapczynski, auxiliary president.
Monongahela Valley Hospital in Monongahela has an auxiliary, the Auxiliary of Mon-Vale Health Resources Inc., that was formed from a hospital merger.
That auxiliary donated nearly $32,000 last year that paid for a stress test system for the cardiology lab and a specialized transport cart.
The Allegheny General Hospital Auxiliary has, in 100 years of volunteerism, raised $6 million in support of the hospital's medical programs, spokeswoman Stephanie Waite said.
“We are very proud of what we do,” said Susannah Calvo, president of the Latrobe group. “It's just this commitment that our women have to support the hospital, and their love for the hospital.”
Every hospital auxiliary needs more members to replace those who retire. Here's hoping that the community spirit that these volunteers exhibit catches on with more people with a little bit of time to give.