Chris Kirkland, is honoured for her 40 years of service with the Cootamundra Hospital Auxiliary. Cootamundra Hospital is this year operating with a full complement of nurses, thanks to the fund-raising work of the Hospital Auxiliary.

The Auxiliary, a group of dedicated women volunteers, last financial year purchased an amazing $27,900 worth of equipment for the Hospital.

Most of the money went towards referbishing the nurses home on the Hospital grounds, with the objective of making Cootamundra a more attrac- tive location for nurses.

It worked, and patients are now benefiting from a full contingent of nurses staff who are happier, more efficient and more inclined to stay.

Few Auxiliary members have contributed more than Cootamundra’s Chris Kirkwood, who at a recent meet- ing was presented with a badge recognising 40 years of continuous service.

Chris recalls that she was asked by a neighbour to join the Auxiliary after her youngest child had finished high school and gone to university.

“I’d just finished with school canteens and all that and wanted to think for a while about what to do next.
“Our neighbour suggested I might like to come and help at the races, where the Auxiliary was doing the catering, so I went out and helped there and en- joyed myself.

“She then suggested I might like to join and I said ‘Oh no, I don’t want to go to meetings, I want to think for a while.

“Forty years later!”
Chris’s four decades of service has included four years as president, several years as vice president, and 15 years as publicity officer.
Although the Auxiliary stopped cater- ing at the races, it still caters at other events and raises funds with street stalls and raffles. A fundraising main-stay for many years was an annual fete held at the Hospital, which raised thousands of dollars every year.
“It’s been fun, I’ve met so many won- derful people on the way through,” Chris said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time and I’d do it all again.
“Things have changed a lot but the Auxiliary is picking up nicely with new members joining of course we’d love more.

“Volunteering is its own reward. A lot of people do a lot around the town and I think it’s good not to let volunteering go away.”

The aim of the Auxiliary is to buy extra items for the Hospital that are not funded by the government, but which lift the quality of patient care.

The nurse’s home, which has five bedrooms and a common area and a kitchen, is important to attract and retain good staff because accommodation in Cootamundra is tight.

Secretary-Treasurer Joan Collins said it was probably last refurbished in the 1970s and was looking pretty awful. “The Health Department came to the party with repainting throughout, and we provided new beds, air conditioning, smart TVs and other things to en- courage new staff to come and stay,” she said.

Moving on to this financial year, the Auxiliary has already placed an order for an $8,500 vein finder, a kind of wand that can quickly find veins so patients can get treatment straight away.

Tom Gosling