Volunteer gives all to hospital

March 25, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

Editor's note: This is the sixth story in a weeklong series during National Women's History Month recognizing women in the Tri-State area who make a difference in their communities.

While attending Williamsport High School, Pat Geiman considered becoming a youth volunteer at Washington County Hospital but then chose not to. Years later, as president of the Washington County Hospital Auxiliary, she oversees all of the hospital volunteers.

Geiman, 46, said she works three days a week at the hospital, putting in between 20 and 25 hours a week for the volunteer position.

Geiman became president in June 2000. Her term ends this June.

"It has been a real pleasure. I have enjoyed it thoroughly," she said. "It is quite an honor. It has been quite rewarding."


As president, Geiman oversees all Auxiliary operations and Auxiliary members. She also works with the Auxiliary executive board of directors, which meets about 10 times a year.

There are 500 Auxiliary members. Of those, about 280 work at least 50 hours a year, she said. Auxiliary members volunteered a total of 54,739 hours in 2001.

Her job, Geiman said, is to make sure operations run smoothly. The work requires organization, flexibility and good communication and listening skills, she said.

Auxiliary member Carol Shea, wife of outgoing Hagerstown Community College President Norman Shea, said Geiman does a great job.

"The thing that has been outstanding about her is she never loses sight of the fact that the people that would be considered her employees are volunteers," she said "So when it comes to having something done, she never demands. She always asks, she always thanks.

"She makes people feel like, 'I don't mind doing that job'," Shea said.

Auxiliary members provide 37 services in the hospital including running the gift shop, the coffee shop, transporting patients, restocking supplies and delivering flowers, Geiman said.

To prepare for her position, Geiman observed all of the Auxiliary services so she could be more familiar with all the work the Auxiliary does, Shea said.

"She is doing a wonderful job," Auxiliary Past President Sue Fiedler said. "She is very compassionate."

Geiman "has done a fine job," said James Hamill, president and chief executive officer of Washington County Health System Inc., the hospital's parent company. "She has stepped up to the challenge of directing the activities of the over 400 Auxiliary members."

The responsibilities of the Auxiliary presidential position have grown with the health system, Geiman said.

The hospital plans to hire a paid director of volunteer services to take on some of that work, she said. Washington County is the only hospital in the state without such a paid position, she said.

The new position's responsibilities will include recruiting new volunteers.

Under Geiman's leadership, the Auxiliary added new services including assisting at the diabetes center and at a rehabilitation center at the Robinwood Medical Center, she said. She also hopes to start a program in which volunteers read to elderly patients.

The Auxiliary started new fund-raisers under her leadership including the sale of handbags, shoes and jewelry, she said.

Each year, the Auxiliary raises about $200,000 for the hospital, she said.

Geiman worked for the Hagerstown YMCA for about 20 years, retiring as program director in September 1997.

She became an Auxiliary member in January 1998 and asked to work in the hospital coffee shop.

"I wanted to help people. I wanted an activity that would keep me busy," she said.

And it did.

She was soon approached about being the president-elect for the Auxiliary, a position in which she served from June 1998 to 2000. She then became president.

She will next serve a two-year term as past president.

She will continue to do auxiliary work after her term ends, but she has not decided in what capacity.

"I am committed to the cause. I feel appreciated when I volunteer here," she said.

She also continues to volunteer at YMCA events.

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