Organizational meetings of our Auxiliary were held on May 9th and June 6th, 1973, with 30 prospective members attending. On June 7th, 1977, the Auxiliary was “Incorporated” and was granted “Registered Charity” status. As of February 2017 our Auxiliary now has 135 active volunteers, contributing approximately 15,000 volunteer hours each year. All volunteers working within the hospital are co-ordinated under the Auxiliary.
The hospital was officially opened on January 14th, 1977. Total bed count at that time was 114 with in-patients admitted in March, 1977. At present, our hospital has 100 in-patient beds; 25 ALC beds; 8 ICU beds and 26 emergency beds.
The Auxiliary has always been active within the hospital. Previously members served night lunches to patients, handled television rentals to patients, and staffed the Auxiliary and Pastoral Care offices, Medical Library as well as two members in the Pharmacy Department.
Our members continue to serve Night Lunches to patients, staff the Medical Library, provide Friendly Visitor Volunteers, assist with a Menu Delivery Program, staff the Information Desks in the DGH Lobby and Emergency Department, and assist in the Diabetic Clinic and the Pharmacy Department.
Our Corner Gift Shoppe is staffed with five shifts of Volunteers, Monday through Friday and two shifts Saturday and Sunday. Our Gift Cart, is staffed by volunteers who continue to visit patient rooms five afternoons a week.
Our DGH Auxiliary’s Junior Volunteer program (ages 16 to 18) continued to flourish providing valuable experiences for young people. Their recruiting, training and job assignment is now the responsibility of the NSHA Volunteer coordinator.
For many years the Auxiliary has been recognizing a high school graduate pursuing a medically related program at university or community college with a bursary. Since 2003 the bursary has been valued at $1,500.00.
In earlier years, our Auxiliary fundraising projects included such events as an Annual Dinner Theater, Holly Tree Bazaar, Fashion Show 50/50 Draw at AHL hockey games, Winter Carnival Snowball, concession stand at Shearwater Air Show, Harvest Ball, a community fair “Agora”, many raffles, art show and a celebrity auction.
Now, our fundraising projects include the Holly Tree Bazaar, St. Patrick’s Day Bake Sale and numerous raffles. Our Corner Gift Shoppe continues to be our major source of revenue contributing approximately $40,000.00 a year to our financial commitments to the DGH.
In 2006, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Dartmouth General Hospital, and with additional financial support of $5,000 from Capital Health, the “Healing Garden” finally became a reality at the DGH. One of our members, Val Conrad, fulfilled the role of Project Manager during the building of the garden. Val approached several businesses in the area for sponsorship. Conrad Brothers generously donated time and equipment in preparing the site.
All funds raised are donated to the hospital to purchase items which would not ordinarily be available through the budget. We also fulfill pledges to the DGH Foundation. To date, we can proudly say our Auxiliary has contributed over $1,800,000.00 million dollars in pledges to the DGH Hospital Foundation. We have recently completed our financial obligation to the Foundation to fund a series of movable security walls purchased for the DGH Emergency Department which provide greater security, privacy and cleanliness for the patients on site. We are also funded our latest pledge of $125,000.00 over a three-year period to fund a Sim Man “High Fidelity Simulation and Medical Training Robot” for the DGH.
The Dartmouth General Hospital Auxiliary's impressive physical presence as part of the team within the Hospital, and its member's many volunteer hours contributed to the running of our Corner Shoppe and our annual unique fundraising events is evidenced by our very significant financial contributions made each year to the Hospital.
Our latest initiative was a pledge to support the Dartmouth General’s Redevelopment Project, where the DGH Auxiliary members unanimously voted to donate a total of $200,000.00 to the hospital’s Capital Campaign: $40,000.00 a year over 5 years.
In September 2017, the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) took over the authority and responsibility for recruiting, training and placement of new DGH volunteers into the many other roles allocated to volunteers within the DGH Hospital: Information Desks, Night Lunches, Visiting Volunteers, etc.
The DGH Auxiliary’s present major responsibilities remain the organizing, running, recruiting of volunteers and organization, running and staffing of their primary fund raising activity: The Corner Shoppe.
The President of the Auxiliary continues to sit as a voting member on the board of the Dartmouth General Hospital Charitable Foundation.
Our members should be extremely proud of the achievements of the Auxiliary over the years. It is with thanks to them and their commitment to volunteering in our community that has made all of this possible.
(With thanks to Heather Otto and Joyce Sawler for the original compilation of this history.)
Updated September 2017/JRL