For those of us who are directionally challenged, finding our way around, especially in a hospital with its array of corridors and multiple points of entry and exit, can truly be a challenge. Already somewhat overwhelmed by the prospect of some invasive medical procedure being performed upon us by complete strangers, when we, the habitually lost, walk into the lobby of an unfamiliar hospital, the thing we need most is the reassurance of a friendly face. Those anticipating a visit to Pershing Memorial Hospital can rest assured that, thanks to Beth Siddens and the other ‘Blue Ladies’ of the Pershing Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, they will be greeted warmly and with a willingness to help. Known as the Pink Ladies for many years after Pershing Memorial Hospital was first constructed in 1959, this once all-female cadre of volunteers has more recently changed the color of their smocks to blue and their attitude toward male volunteers to acceptance.
“You can always tell when someone’s lost; the remodeling has messed with more than a few,” says Siddens who volunteers as a one-woman welcome wagon in the lobby of Pershing Memorial. “We do the little things in the hope they’ll make a big difference for patients and other visitors.” Whether it’s an aspirin for a visitor’s headache or a get-well greeting card for a loved one, Siddens and the other 37 Pershing Auxiliary volunteers who work at the front desk or in the nearby Gift Shop provide unbudgeted services that are invaluable to Pershing Memorial Hospital. And being in the front lobby to greet visitors or in the Gift Shop to generate revenue for the benefit of the hospital aren’t the only volunteer services the ladies and gentlemen of the Pershing Memorial Hospital Auxiliary provide. They also help during the gastrointestinal (GI), heart, orthopedic, and vision clinics the hospital periodically hosts.
Pershing Memorial Hospital Auxiliary (PMHA) Board President-Elect Mary Beth Kelley explains, “We may clean and make beds, push wheelchairs to get patients needing them where they need to go, raise funds for college scholarships or equipment, or perform some other service that doesn’t necessarily require a degree, license or certification.” The Auxiliary generates revenue for medical school scholarships and equipment like the pediatric crash cart in the emergency room by selling items in the Gift Shop and holding book fairs.
“We see a need and try and help meet it,” says outgoing PMHA Board President Marilyn Holloway. “A couple of years ago, the ER had a crash cart, but not one that was a suitable size for a child, so we provided funds to purchase a smaller one.” Last year, the PMHA provided 12 college scholarships for local students intending to enter the medical field.