In April 1980, Sandra Kennedy, Director of Public Relations, Carolyn Key, and Nancy Kendall, were instrumental in bringing together approximately fifty ladies to discuss a hospital auxiliary for Ouachita County Hospital (now Ouachita County Medical Center). Dr. Cal Sanders and Hospital Board member, Teresa Rogers, were also active in this venture. The meeting was held in the hosptial cafeteria one evening, and ladies from ElDorado Hospital Auxiliary, led by Cissie Nash, their president, presented ideas from their auxiliary. The Camden News reported the Volunteers in Action (VIA) officially began May 5, 1980. It was described as a department within the hospital, set up to be of service to the patients and headed by Nancy Kendall. Carolyn Key, RN and Director of Inservice for the hosptial, directed the first orientation - - one class included Nancy Kendall, Elworth Clifton, Ruth Tate, Constance Schonz, Marie Pace, Stewart Byrd, Edna Beaver, Louise Woolridge and Rosayln Byars. In December 1980, the following slate of officers was elected: Rosalyn Byars, President, Anne Nunnally, Vice President, Margaret Campbell, Secretary, Mary Merritt, Treasurer, Hattie Johnson, Historian, and Nancy Kendall, Director of Volunteers. In March 1984, the organization oficially joined the Arkansas Hosptial Auxiliary Association (AHAA), and changed the jackets to pink - - up until this time they had worn red jackets. Several of the charter members remain active with the Auxiliary or are Honorary Members. From the beginning, the Auxiliary has grown and expanded our concept of service.
Prior to the beginning of the Auxiliary, several ladies from the WMU of the First Baptist Church were active in the hospital with a refreshment cart.
The early workstations included a Morning Coffee Cart, and Afternoon Cart sold candy, soft drink and sundries, Careline, Information Desk, and Hospice. The first gift shop was located on the ground floor of the hospital, the last room on the right which was the office for the volunteers at that time. An early report showed that the auxiliary worked about 5,000 hours a year. We now work about 1,100 hours a month.
Anne Nunnally succeeded Rosalyn Byars as President in 1982, and she served for two years. Margaret Harbour was Director of Volunteers. (The fiscal year at that time began in December; this was changed to July 1 in 1991.)
In late 1984 one of the first donations to the hospital was made. This was $500 and was to help furnish the new Hospice Suite and to help fund an infant car seat rental program. The car seat law had recently gone into effect, but this program did not prove successful. Seats wore out rather quickly, and some were never returned!
Several have assisted the Auxiliary during the years as Hospital Coordinators - Beverly Wilkinson, Marilyn Smith, Barbara Byrum, Michelle Redmon, Beth Smith, Trina Reeder, Peggy Abbott, and Nikel York.
In 1985-86, Sally Lott became the third President, and Gertrude Moore the third Director of Volunteers. Assisting them were officers Julia Daniel, Vice President; Ruth Coffer, Secretary; Jessye Lynn Wood, Treasurer, and Louise McKenzie, Historian. Chairmen were Anne Nunnally, Melba Arnold, Rachel Biniakewitz, Jenny Grabert, Murphy Gonsoulin, Eddith Lewis, Lillian Loe, and Nat Tisdale.
In June 1985, an open house was held for the Auxiliary's new gift shop in the area that had once been the father's waiting room next to the OB-GYN wing. Melba Arnold and Jenny Grabert were the capable and guiding hands for the gift shop since its inception.
Several projects were begun during 1985-96, and one of these was the decorating of the Obstetric lobby (the father's waiting room) at the cost of $2,800 - December 1985. * In February 1986, Sandra Kennedy met with the Executive Board to discuss "Lifeline," a program to enable medically at-risk indvidiuals to live independently in their homes with access to assistance 24 hours a day. This program became a reality in 1988. * Also discussed was buying insulated mugs which would have the hospital insignia and be sold in the Gift Shop. * Plans were underway for the beginning of the Runner program. * During this period a special Sesquicentennial Birth Certificate was presented to each baby born at the hospital which helped celebrate Arkansas' 150th birthday. * In March 1986, $1,500 was donated to purchase a new Resuscitation Annie to be used by the hospital and the community for teaching CPR. * The Auxiliary also encourage the "All American Buckle-up" program to promote the use of seat belts by everyone by giving out American flags and brochures to promote the program. * The first edition of a newsletter by the Auxiliary was in May 1986. It consisted of one page, but it waqws newsworthy. * In July 1986, $500 was given to the hospital for the purchase of an Electronic Scale to be used in the nursery to provide an exact digital weight reading. * In August 1986, a new project was introduced, the "Live Memorial Christmas Tree," now known as the Gift of Life in Light. The results of the first tree (December 1986) were better than even hoped--the goal was $2,000, and $2,503 was the final count; a Vital Check Monitor was purchased. * Another awareness program was Medic Alert which Auxilians endorsed as a new state project. * Not to be forgotten as history of this time was the number of Auxilians who worked in the "Biniakewitz Craft Shop." Much talent and many hours went into this program where crafts were made for sale in the Gift Shop. * Polly Lindsey was awarded the Lions Club John Stinson Award for Civic Service for her volunteer work.
Jessye Lynn Wood was the next President (1987--she served only one year, by her own choice), Geraldine Williams was Director of Volunteers. Officers were Rachel Biniakewitz, Vice President; Sally Lott, Secretary; Jini West, Tresurer; and Louise McKenzie, Historian. * At that time, scrapbooks were judged at the State Convention, and the OCH Auxiliary scrapbook by Louise McKenzie won first place from forty-three entries in the State - October 1986. * Another service provided by the Auxilians during this time was paying for personal hair care for patients on the Recuperative Care Unit. This was provided for $5.00 per patient. * This Hospital received $500 from the Auxiliary for toys for the Pediatric wing - April 1987. * The Gift Shop sale "Special - 20% Off for Employees" during National Hospital Week - May 1987. * The first annual $500 nursing scholarship was given to Kellye Longino, LPN who used the money to further her nursing education - June 1987. * Sally Lott received a Testimonial of Appreciation for her dedicated and distinguished service on behalf of OCH from the American Hospital Association 1987 Hospital Awards for Volunteer Excellence Program - July 1987. * The amount of $2,800 was purposed for the purchase of the Dietary Hot and Cold Server - September 1987. * The Auxiliary donated $1,700 for the purchase of new waiting room furniture for Radiology, and they adopted the flower garden by the traffic light to help beautify the appearance for the hospital. * Lillian Loe was awarded the Lions Club John Stinson Award for Civic Service for her volunteer work. * In August 1987, the Auxiliary worked with Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company and the AHAA in distributing 100,000 Child Assistance Tags to kindergarten and first grade students. * Mr. McAllister was honored by seven members of the OCH Auxiliary who joined him at the Administrators' Luncheon at the AHAA convention in Little Rock in October 1987. * New CAT Scanning service was installed in the Radiology Department - November 1987. * A check for $2,365 for the second Gift of Life in Lights tree was given to the hospital. Antoher Vital Check Monitor was purchased.
Raymond Williams was the 1988 and 1989 President, and the officers the first year were Geraldine Williams, Vice President; Dot Reese, Secretary; Jini West, Treasurer; Sula Burnham, Historian. Sally Lott was Director of Volunteers.