"OMC (Ozarks Medical Center) is going to hold a "work day" at the (Fulton County) hospital on Friday, Dec. 16," Interim Administrator Kim Thompson announced at the hospital board's November meeting.
Thompson, an OMC executive, is on loan as the West Plains hospital works to finalize a three year contract to manage the Fulton County Hospital.
Thompson told The News that OMC employees often volunteer to work on Habitat for Humanity homebuilding projects and other community improvement activities in West Plains. For the Dec. 16 work day at the Fulton County Hospital, managers and employees who can get time off from their duties are donating their time, a sign of the new partnership between the two hospitals.
Thompson commented, when she began her job in late October, what a nice facility the Salem hospital is. But there is a big difference in newly renovated rooms in the Swing Bed rehabilitation wing and rooms in the in-patient hall.
"Funds have been donated to buy paint and supplies, and we hope to paint all of the rooms in the acute care wing in one day," said Thompson. "We may have to shuffle patients between rooms as we do the work."
Thanks to a large state grant to make energy efficiency improvements at the hospital, in-patient rooms recently received new individual heating and cooling units and, in addition to painting, new television sets have been purchased for each room.
"People were telling me I was crazy and I would never get that many TV sets," said Pam Johnson, regarding her Thanksgiving Day adventure at the Walmart in Thayer.
Johnson, who runs the hospital gift shop and is in charge of hospital volunteers, went to the Walmart at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving night to be first in line, as customers began gathering to wait for specially priced Black Friday electronics department bargains, which were to go on sale at midnight.
Johnson's goal was to purchase 11 32-inch Emerson televisions, priced at $188 each. Hospital volunteers and the hospital foundation pooled their money to finance the purchases.
At first, an assistant manager told Johnson she could buy only one television at the advertised price, but the store manager later came by to tell Johnson she could have all 11-sets, since it was for a good cause.
When the electronics sale began at midnight, Johnson, with help from her grandson, obtained the new patient room televisions as promised. By 1 a.m., she was on her way home with a van full of televisions.
Johnson claims the seven hours she waited in line were not so bad. As the line grew, she shared the one chair available to them, and fellow bargain hunters discussed their Christmas shopping strategies, got to know each other and even straightened some shelves in the area where they were assigned to wait.
"I like helping people, and we've been working for a long time to get new flat screen televisions in patient rooms and in waiting room areas," said Johnson. "The rooms should be a lot more comfortable when we get finished."
Thompson hopes that, during the work day, the wiring in each room can be improved so that separate switches will allow each bed area to be lighted separately. Currently, lights in rooms are either all on or all off.
If there are enough volunteers, Thompson would also like to clean out storage areas and perform some other cleaning tasks.
One other big project was finished on Dec. 2, when the hospital auctioned off surplus and unneeded equipment and furniture.
The front parking lot was filled with televisions, old air conditioners and heating units, beds and other furniture, file cabinets and many other surplus items.
A good crowd of curious shoppers were present, buying items at very low prices.
One man who bid on a large amount of goods said he was looking for merchandise that could be sold for scrap.
Bill and Lynn Hoover were happy with their purchases, as they loaded their pick up truck with bookshelves and a table with two matching chairs.
"Our church, Crossroads Baptist in Ash Flat, just moved into our new building," Bill Hoover said. "We needed shelving and we can put the table in the hallway for flowers."
Hospital board member Danny Perryman donated his time for the auction, which was designed to clear out storage units and get rid of as much unneeded "stuff" as possible.