In the hallway and rooms all around her, there was hustle and bustle as volunteers carried supplies, applied masking tape and brushed and rolled paint on walls.
Twenty-one Ozarks Medical Center employees left their jobs in West Plains on Friday, Dec. 16, to become painters for a day at Fulton County Hospital.
"The enthusiasm of the team that traveled down to Salem shows just how delighted OMC is to be working with FCH," said OMC President and CEO David Zechman, who joined the team of volunteers.
In October, OMC took over day-to-day operations at FCH and, on Dec. 19 and 20, the Fulton County Hospital Board and the Ozarks Medical Center Board approved a three-year management agreement.
Kim Thompson, an OMC executive who is serving as interim administrator at the Fulton County Hospital, announced the work day earlier this month.
Thompson was impressed with the local facility, but agreed that patient rooms in the acute care wing of the hospital needed some freshening up.
Rooms in the Swing Bed unit were completely redone in 2010 as the hospital began its light-rehab program. "But the rooms in the in-patient area haven't gotten attention in years," said Pam Johnson, FHC's volunteer coordinator.
The goal of the OMC work crew was to paint eight of the 12 rooms in one day.
"We had a real good sign-up," said OMC Media Relations Specialist Shandi Brinkman, as she rolled paint on a wall. "No one was forced to volunteer. The people working are either off today or are coming by before or after their shifts."
OMC employees regularly volunteer for community projects in their hometown, but this was the first out-of-town workday. Volunteers ranged from the chief nursing officer and the chief operating officer to a graphic artist and computer expert to a nurse practitioner and nurses.
Besides providing labor, OMC employees made donations to buy paint and supplies, or brought brushes, rollers and paint trays from home. One employee, who asked to remain anonymous, donated $1,000.
"I cried when I heard that OMC was going to take over management," said Renee Arnold, as she painted. "The Fulton County Hospital has really been struggling and a lot of people have given up on it."
Arnold, an OMC Nurse Practitioner, knows her employer is a good manager, as well as a good health care provider. She also knows Fulton County Hospital's problems, since she is married to FCH employee, Dr. Griffin Arnold, and lives in Fulton County.
FCH respiratory therapist Rhonda Moss pitched in and got the glamourous job of removing paint from light switch covers, on her day off.
Vern Lindvall, a Fulton County citizen who lives north of Salem, was dressed in painter white and busy rolling paint onto a wall.
"I read about the work day in the paper and called to see if they would let me help," said Lindvall, who spent 35 years as a drywall installer. "I'm not an expert, but I've done a lot of painting."
As the work day came to an end, the goal of priming and painting all eight rooms was being reached.
Hospital maintenance workers are now installing new ceilings with energy efficient lights in each room, and new fixtures with energy saving bulbs on the wall above each bed. New in-room heating and air conditioning units have already been installed, all through a grant that funded energy efficiency improvements all over the hospital.
Thanks to hospital volunteers and the hospital foundation, new 32-inch flat screen televisions have been purchased and will be mounted on a wall in each patient room.
"The rooms should be a lot more comfortable when we get finished," said Johnson.
"We got eight rooms painted and they are getting them back together, so they look real good," Thompson told board members during their Dec. 19 meeting.
Thompson added Vern Lindvall had such a good time that he is going to remain a hospital volunteer, helping paint the remaining rooms in the wing. She thanked Lindvall for his willingness to help.
Once the room renovations are finished, they will figure in a new effort to cut costs at the hospital.
On days when there are low numbers of acute care and swing bed patients, Thompson would like to move swing bed patients to the acute care wing.
Instead of staffing two wings, fewer nurses and support staff will be needed to provide patient care.