By Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico
The women are known as Pink Ladies. The men Red Coats.
They volunteer to man the gift shops, front desks, rock babies in the nurseries, make runs for doctors and other errands needed by hospital staff.
The Roosevelt General Hospital and Plains Regional Medical Center’s auxiliary stand out at the hospitals because of their brightly colored uniforms.
The hospital auxiliary at RGH staffs the gift shop, keeps magazines in the surgery recovery room as well as takes care of the chapel with 40 active members.
Sydney Phillips, the president of the RGH auxiliary, said she joined the group after she retired in 1995.
“I don’t like to sit at home all the time. I like to do things for people who can’t do it for themselves,” she said as she sorted through a box of donated books.
Phillips said the funds raised by the auxiliary’s gift shop go directly back to the hospital. RGH’s auxiliary has purchased a number of things for the hospital, including a fireplace for the lobby, a salad bar in the cafeteria, computers and wheel chairs.
In Clovis, PRMC’s auxiliary performs many of the same tasks.
Rhonda Murdock, the hospital’s administration assistant, said the hospital would need a large number of employees to take care of what the Pink Ladies do for them.
“We couldn’t do without them. It’s amazing how many hours they put in,” she said.
Ruby Goforth is the president of the PRMC’s auxiliary group. She joined the Pink Ladies in 2003.
“Being a Pink Lady is very fulfilling,” the 78-year-old said. “When I first heard that we only worked three hours a week, I thought it was hardly worth putting on the uniform. The first day I worked I changed my mind.”
The PRMC auxiliary has 80 active members.
Goforth said the group of women is close.
“It just gets in your blood when you’re a member for a while.” she said. “And you stay a member.”
Goforth said she enjoys volunteering at a hospital because she can provide comfort for people who need it.
“People come in and they know you so you are a comfort to them,” she said.
Goforth, who has two artificial knees, said she goes into patients’ rooms who’ve had a knee replacement surgery to show them they’ll be all right.
“I tell people, I know what you’re going through. I have two false knees, one is 21 years old and one is 17 years old, and I’m doing great,” she said. “And they tell me they needed to hear that.”
“Sometimes you leave here wiped out, but it’s worth it. You’re able to visit and makes someone happy and it’s worth it.”
The RGH and PRMC auxiliaries also fund scholarships for students studying in the medical field. Goforth said the PRMC group funds 10 to 20 scholarships a year.