About the Cottage Grove Hospital Auxiliary
April 14 – You see them wearing blue vests sitting behind the desk in the hospital lobby with smiles on their faces offering a cheerful greeting to all who come in the front door. The nearly half-century-old Cottage Grove Hospital Auxiliary is a not-for-profit organization under the auspices of the Cottage Grove Community Hospital Foundation.
History of the Hospital and Auxiliary
The former hospital opened on Birch Avenue in the early 1950s as an investment by the owners of local wood products companies and citizens who purchased bonds to build the facility. In the pre-Interstate 5-era, these investors wanted to give gravely injured Grovers a fighting chance for survival by having a hospital closer than Eugene.
When the former hospital became insolvent, in a small army of committed citizens and business owners in South Lane and North Douglas Counties formed the Citizens Supporting Health Care advocacy group. In a Herculean effort to reopen the shuttered hospital by December 31, 1999, the group cleared two legislative hurdles: one in Salem and one on Capitol Hill.
The two necessary bills lowered the existing distance requirement of “critical access” rural hospitals from 35 miles to 20 miles. This allowed PeaceHealth to be reimbursed by Medicare at higher rates making the hospital financially viable in the future. The group also raised more than $2 million dollars for the $16 million it would cost to build the new hospital.
Jim and Carol Reeves co-chaired the Campaign Cabinet to raise the $2 million dollars. The list of donors in the hospital lobby represents a Who’s Who of Cottage Grove, Creswell, Drain and Yoncalla. When the fundraising goal was reached, PeaceHealth formed a new board and leased the Birch Avenue hospital until the new one was completed on the east side of Interstate 5. The current hospital and clinic opened on October 6, 2003.
Goals and Fundraising Efforts
From its inception, the purpose of the Auxiliary is to support and enhance patient care in the medical center and to promote health care services in South Lane and North Douglas communities. Membership is open to all persons who want to fulfill its goals. Currently, the organization has 35 active members and 19 lifetime members.
Fundraising for the Cottage Grove Hospital is a large part of the Auxiliary’s efforts. From 1972-2023, it has donated nearly $280,000 in equipment and supplies to support the hospital and clinic. The first large donation in 1972 purchased a heart monitor. Its largest single donation was $35,000, in 2006, to purchase a digital mammography machine to do breast cancer screening locally.
Examples of other donated equipment include blood pressure monitors, patient lifts, wheelchairs, defibrillators, suture lights, IV warmer, vein finder, and blood draw chairs, child x-ray support, a Glide-a-Scope, and five over the bed tables.
The Fashion Show Fundraiser
Auxiliary President Bobette Peterson joined the group 15 years ago when she retired from Harrison Elementary School.
“After I retired, I started looking for something to do to give back to my community,” Peterson said. “Through the years I’ve met some wonderful people. Our front desk volunteers try to bring a little sunshine, especially for the people who come in and are anxious about their medical condition.”
She said one of the organization’s biggest accomplishments is staffing the front desk five days a week, two shifts each day, rotated among 20 volunteers. Their duties are to greet patients and visitors and ask if they need assistance. After calling the in-patient unit they escort the visitor using a badge to unlock the doors. They wipe down wheelchairs and keep at least one at the front door. They also work on different projects when asked.
Over the years, there have been many changes both in the hospital and the Auxiliary. One of the ways the Auxiliary raised funds for the hospital was through its gift shop. After moving to the new hospital, the gift shop was closed due to limited space. Another successful fundraiser was an annual golf tournament. Currently, their ongoing fundraiser is selling the two dozen packets of two cookies each that Bohemia Bakery donates to them each week.
In 2019, while shopping in the Flower Basket and Gift Boutique, Peterson was inspired to ask owner Carol Reeves if she would help organize a fashion show fundraiser. Reeves, a longtime supporter of the hospital, was enthusiastic about the idea.
“I knew if I brought up the idea to the board, I would be put in charge of it,” Peterson said with a laugh. “The other members of the planning team who helped me were Sharon Kester and Wendy Popp.”
The sold-out inaugural Fashion Show was held on October 12, 2019, in the Cottage Grove Community Medical Center’s upstairs mezzanine and sponsored by the Flower Basket and Gift Boutique. Peterson said feedback from attendees proved the fundraiser was a huge success and the plan was to make it an annual tradition.
And then the pandemic arrived.
“During COVID, the Auxiliary did not volunteer at the hospital, didn’t have any meetings, and there were no fundraisers,” Peterson said. “The only glue that kept the volunteers connected was the hard work of Joy Serkowney and Cathy Seymour producing our monthly newsletter. During this time the Auxiliary was still able to donate $5,000 towards the opening of the swing bed program at the hospital.”
After a two-year hiatus, the three fashion show planners decided to do it again and the leadership board voted to proceed. The event is Saturday, May 6, at 2:00 pm at the Cottage Grove Armory. Tickets are $25 per person and are available at the hospital front desk, at the Flower Basket and Gift Boutique, and from an Auxiliary member. The price includes a custom “grazing table” catered by Branch Road Farm Catering and a free glass of wine, iced tea or coffee.
Auxiliary volunteers and hospital staff will stroll through the crowd with Reeves providing a narrated description of their outfits. There will be a gift basket raffle with items donated by Auxiliary members and local businesses. Raffle tickets are $5.00 each or five for $20.00. Only cash or checks can be accepted. The hospital has provided a wish list of items to be considered from the fashion show profits.
Wendy Popp is the executive assistant to the hospital administrator. She has served as the hospital liaison to the Auxiliary for nearly nine years. She enjoys working with them to bring back the fashion show and appreciates the important role the organization plays in enhancing patient care.
“They are the face of our facility,” Popp said. “They are priceless to us and having them back onsite is a benefit to both the staff and our patients.”