Auxiliary President Irene Casselman accepts very happy thanks for the auxiliary donation of $57,500 from Cheryl Dumond, MDRD supervisor. (submitted)

Auxiliary President Irene Casselman accepts very happy thanks for the auxiliary donation of $57,500 from Cheryl Dumond, MDRD supervisor. (submitted)

Cowichan Hospital Auxiliary cleans up with equipment donation

Equipment that is used to perform surgery must be well-designed, sturdy, and scrupulously clean.

By Bruce Wilkinson, guest columnist

Equipment that is used to perform surgery must be well-designed, sturdy, and scrupulously clean. It must meet “medical grade” standards that come with significant dollar signs attached.

The Auxiliary to Cowichan District Hospital is very pleased to announce that it recently authorized payment of $57,500 for the purchase of more than 70 Genisis sterilizing pans and accessories. These pans will be used in hip and knee surgeries — the most common procedures at Cowichan District Hospital. The auxiliary believes that procuring this equipment supports its pledge of “care and comfort” because it will alleviate the potential for cancellation of surgeries in the event that it is discovered that wraps in the currently used paper-wrap system have been compromised. The auxiliary’s donation of more than $57,000 means that the pans will be in service sooner, allow for some reallocation of manpower, reduce waste of non-recyclable materials, and maybe even make more orthopaedic procedures than the current average 730 per year possible.

With an expected life span of 20 years, we recognized the potential of these devices to provide better care for many patients for years to come.

Our auxiliary would normally try to donate toward items that are not strictly medical and therefore not budgeted for in the Island Health financing processes, such as pressure mattresses and cushions for those subject to bed sores, warming equipment to make blood transfusions more comfortable, and items recognized by practitioners as being appropriate for individual patients without the financial means to purchase for themselves. A lot of these personalized items are determined by community nurses who visit individuals in their homes. However, it is frequently necessary to contribute to clearly medical equipment needs in order to improve or speed the treatment for patients without having to wait for government gears to grind.

The auxiliary is able to make such financial donations because of the tremendous support from the community at our HATS store (Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store) on Station Street in Duncan, at our gift shop in the hospital, and at Christmas bazaars where our volunteer knitters attend with items for sale.

The gift shop has been operating in the hospital for decades, providing convenient snack and toiletries service and reading materials, knitted items ranging from dish cloths to sweaters, and a variety of gift items.

HATS continues to be a great contributor toward our financial success and community contact as it approaches it’s 8th anniversary.

The Needlers, our knitting group comprised of members and community-oriented citizens, create dozens of different items for sale year round at the gift shop. We are grateful for yarn donations and knitted crafts and for the contributions of non-auxiliary citizens, such as the ethnic foods from the Sikh community that we offer at a special event — always a sell-out.

We partner with other auxiliaries in the Cowichan Valley to provide services and support events for residents at Cairnsmore Place such as the strawberry and baking tea, and the tuck shop on site. In 2014 the auxiliary provided substantial support for an outdoor meditation garden at Cairnsmore.

The auxiliary also offers services for which there is no significant financial cost, such as tea and visiting, magazine cart, guidance and support for youth volunteers intending to create a career in medicine (and even bursaries), soft trinkets for children stressed out from medical issues, knitted items for newborns and emergency toiletries for those whose stay in hospital was unanticipated. If you are scheduled for surgery, you will often go through pre-admission and be supplied with surgical sponges for pre-surgery cleansing at home. The auxiliary has provided approximately 15,000 of these so far. Over the past three years, the auxiliary has also partnered with the Cowichan Hospital Foundation on some Foundation initiatives, with our contributions amounting to $76,000.

The financial assets that are generated from our operations are the results of the dedicated efforts of approximately 170 members working day (and often night) to contribute in many ways, racking up thousands of hours. Staffing the stores and offering all of the other services noted is a challenge. Our auxiliary is a great success, but our aging volunteer force is in need of some new blood, so please consider joining us and working alongside some very community-spirited citizens as we prepare to make other exciting announcements that show our ongoing commitment to our Valley.

Bruce Wilkinson is the publicity director for the Auxiliary to Cowichan District Hospital