The Cariboo Memorial Hospital Auxiliary marks 88 years of service to the hospital in Williams Lake this year.
The auxiliary was organized in 1923, two years before the first public hospital was established.
At the time nearly every woman in Williams Lake was a member and together they raised enough money to furnish the proposed hospital and buy the material to make sheets and pillow cases for the beds.
The original hospital, which was located on the site where City Hall sits today, once had its own orchestra. During the 1920s, when times were hard, the orchestra donated the $50 they made per performance to the hospital.
The auxiliary folded for 1928/29 but began operating again in 1930. That year one of the auxiliary members cooked at the hospital for a month until a permanent cook could be found.
There is little recorded information about the auxiliary from 1930 until 1958 when the first interior regional auxiliary conference was held in Williams Lake.
That year the auxiliary had 45 active members and started a scrap book of activities which continues today.
During the 1950s the auxiliary held a number of fashion shows which added to the town’s social calendar.
For many years the auxiliary also held a Valentine dance to raise funds.
In 1959 the auxiliary decided to stage a cabaret instead. It was a huge success and for the next 10 years the cabaret became the social event of the year.
The floor shows staged mostly with auxiliary talent were truly amazing in their scope and versatility.
The auxiliary continued to expand its fundraising efforts and service to patients when the new hospital was built on its present site in 1962.
For many years, until 2005, the auxiliary took baby photos for new parents.
The auxiliary also managed a candy machine at the hospital until 2009 when government regulations changed and auxiliaries no longer qualified for a percentage of vending machine sales.
Over the years the auxiliary also sponsored many blood donor clinics as a public service.
Operating the hospital gift shop, cart service, TV rentals, delivering flowers from florists to patients in hospital, an auxiliary cookbook, annual Christmas bazaar, tea and bake sales, rummage and garage sales, silent auctions, raffles, tag days, and donations from individuals and businesses are some of the ways the auxiliary continues to provide service to patients and earn money for hospital equipment.
When the nurses’ residence was built in 1966 the auxiliary completely furnished the main living area from sitting room to kitchen. It was termed “a tremendous contribution” by the hospital board chair of the time.
Funds raised by the auxiliary support two bursaries each year to students studying in the health related field.
They also provide tray favors for patients on holidays along with a gift and a t-shirt with the Cariboo Memorial Hospital name on it for the first baby born at the hospital each year.
Between 2000 and 2009 the hospital auxiliary raised and donated more than $113,000 to Cariboo Memorial Hospital for the purchase of equipment.
Auxiliary contributions have helped to purchase IV poles, over-bed tables, night tables, magic bags, five special use chairs, nine stretcher mattresses, $15,000 in contributions toward purchase of a CT scanner, refrigerated centrifuge, two blood pressure machines, four hospital beds for home use, a neonatal fibulator, 10 electronic thermometers, two blood pressure machines, an automatic blood pressure monitoring device, two breast pumps, a graphic screen, side rail pads, and a blanket warmer.
Auxiliary members regularly participate in regional and provincial auxiliary conferences, including hosting the regional conference in Williams Lake in 1958 and again in 2003 and 2009.
On the social side of their volunteer work the auxiliary holds a pot luck supper for their June meeting and has dinner out at a local restaurant for their December meeting. Award service pins and life memberships are presented to members for long service.