NIH Auxiliary ready to launch annual donation drive

Among the equipment purchased by the NIH Auxiliary is this AED, or Automated External Defibrillator. This AED is installed at the Healthcare District’s Birch Street Annex. These easy-to-use devices can analyze the heart rhythm of someone suffering sudden cardiac arrest, and if necessary deliver an electrical shock or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm. Shown here with the new AED are Auxiliary members Judy Fratella, Betty Dickey, Carole Sample, Diane Remick, Sharon Moore, Marti Witters, and Pat Hawley.

For the past 17 months, like everyone else, Northern Inyo Hospital Auxiliary members stayed home, practiced social distancing, and waited patiently for just a bit of normalcy.  Patients, visitors, and staff missed their gift shop, the annual holiday boutique, and, most of all, their pink-jacketed presence.

It’s safe to say, the Auxiliary was never far from District hearts, and the District was never from theirs. As pandemic restrictions eased in early summer, staff reported Auxiliary sightings to one another – “I saw Judy at the store,” or “I ran into Sharon at the pharmacy,” or a personal favorite, “I saw Shirley zoom in at last night’s Board meeting.”

While the pandemic impacted the group’s membership numbers, President Judy Fratella and Treasurer Sharon Moore report the group’s drive is alive and well. Moore pledges that with the continued generous support of the community, the Auxiliary will once again provide needed medical equipment not always covered the District’s budget.

“Saturday, we are launching our annual donation letter drive,” Moore said, “and we plan to have our Boutique on Saturday, Nov. 6th at the Birch Street Annex.”

This year, Auxiliary members have their collective eye on purchasing a $14,000 Level One Rapid Infuser for the emergency staff. This infusion pump quickly delivers fluid and blood products to patients who suffered significant blood loss, most often in trauma accidents.

“The emergency physicians made a strong case for this item,” Moore explained. “Given our remote location, rapid replacement of fluid and blood products in trauma patients is critical, and it can make a huge difference in patient outcomes. When faced with cases like this, I can’t imagine a more necessary item for our emergency providers.”

To date, the Auxiliary has purchased more than $710,000 worth of equipment for the District. Many may not realize that even during the pandemic, the Auxiliary met their pledge to the District with two new motorized exam tables for The Rural Health Clinic at the cost of $68,230.

The RHC’s Dr. Stacey Brown said that without the support and kindness of the NIH Auxiliary’s donations during the last 20 years, the RHC would not have such valuable equipment to serve its community.

“Until this year, we had a seemingly ancient motorized exam table in Room 4 for procedures like skin biopsies,” Brown explained. “It was always a little weird doing a biopsy on someone who often was younger than the table. We now have not only one but two brand new motorized exam tables that fold and twist to accommodate the patients so much better now, thanks to the Auxiliary.”

As Moore said, the annual donation letter drive kicks off Saturday. Previous supporters should receive a request letter in the mail. New supporters can mail donations to the Auxiliary via NIHD’s mailing address: 150 Pioneer Lane, Bishop, CA 93514. Please address any new contributions to the Northern Inyo Hospital Auxiliary.

When asked when the Gift Shop with its See’s Candies, fresh flowers, and handcrafted baby blankets would return, both Moore and Fratella sadden. Without an increase in membership, the fate of the Gift Shop hangs in the balance.

“We need to boost our numbers so we can adequately staff the Gift Shop,” Moore said. “Our membership is open to men and women of all ages who want to support the hospital, its team, and most importantly, the patients who pass through its doors. People often think of the Auxiliary as crafters, and yes, many are so we can make items for the Holiday Boutique. Still, we need people of all skill sets willing to give their time and heart to not just the hospital, but really to our community.”

Those interested in speaking to Moore about joining the Auxiliary, can reach her at (760) 872-4198.

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