By Ally Knudtson

JAMESTOWN, N.D. (JRMC) – Jamestown Regional Medical Center recently presented Mary Trautman its Legendary Volunteer Service Award.

“I’ve worked with Mary my whole career. We love her. I’m so glad we could make this happen,” said JRMC Hospice Coordinator, Maren Radi.

Under the sunshine and crisp spring air, family, friends and staff safely gathered at Eventide Nursing Home to celebrate Trautman and say thank you.

“We want to celebrate Mary now versus waiting until we could reschedule the JRMC Volunteer Appreciation Banquet. I’m so grateful to the clinical team at Eventide and JRMC for making arrangements for us to do this in person,” said JRMC Volunteer & Community Development Coordinator Regina Olson.

The award is the highest honor given to volunteers who dedicate their time to caring for others and help JRMC fulfill its mission to exceed expectations and be THE difference in the lives of those it serves.

Trautman has always cared for others and has a lifetime of close ties to the hospital. When she was a high school senior in 1951, she worked as a circulating aide for the renowned Dr. Joseph Sorkness, surgeon and founder of the Depuy-Sorkness clinic, later known as the Dakota Clinic. A circulating aide’s role was to create and maintain a sterile working environment in the operating room. Trautman’s son, Tom, shared a story about how she earned Dr. Sorkness’ trust.

“One of her jobs was tracking surgical gauze pads as they were discarded on the floor. When one went missing, she would not let it go. After a bit of time, Dr. Sorkness lifted his foot, smirked and revealed the gauze,” Tom said. “That began a long, trusted relationship.”

Trautman and her late husband, Harold, attribute Dr. Sorkness for life-saving care of Tom and their daughter Vickie. They were so grateful they donated $50,000 in his name, dedicating one of three operating rooms during the new hospital campaign.

Trautman’s dedication to volunteerism started as Jamestown Hospital launched its hospice program 25 years ago.

Unlike other services provided for patients, hospice care requires volunteers to contribute a percentage of time to the attention of patients and clerical work for the program.

“Hospice care treats the physical aspect of terminal illness, but also the emotional and spiritual needs of the patient and their family,” Radi said. “Mary was a source of strength and compassion for patients, their families and nurses.”

“Anyone who is a hospice caregiver is a very special person. You are with patients and families at their most vulnerable. After a loved one has passed, I’ve noticed the overall well-being is better for spouses or family members who opted for hospice care. The program’s structure helps with this grieving process,” said JRMC Foundation Director, Lisa Jackson.

Volunteers also provide respite care. This is time with the patient so caregivers can step away to rest or run errands and know that someone is with their loved one. Patients appreciate the friendship and someone to talk to outside of family.

“Earth angels,” said Cindy Tag-Nygord about hospice workers and volunteers. “Those of us blessed to have them in our lives are fortunate.”

Mary was the hospice volunteer for both Tag-Nygord’s grandmother and mother.

Tag-Nygord is JRMC’s executive assistant and medical staff coordinator.

“Although my mom died shortly after she went on hospice, Mary continued to bring a smile and hug to my life long after. She made sure to stop at my desk to check up on me whenever she was at the hospital. Thank you seems insignificant for all Mary has done for not only my family but me. Congratulations on your years of service and I’m grateful for all the smiles and hugs you have brought to so many,” Tag-Nygord said.

“Mary has been with hospice from the beginning. She’s helped hundreds of people, if not thousands. She would still be active if her health would allow it,” Radi said. “Mary always mentions her work as a hospice volunteer whenever I talk with her.”

Sitting in the open doors of the nursing home, Trautman beamed with her signature smile, “Oh, I wish I could come back. I like to help. It is what I do.”

Past recipients of the Legendary Volunteer Service Award include:

2018: Ernest Hubacker
2019: Dorothy Chouinard

To learn more about hospice care or how to volunteer, contact JRMC Home Health & Hospice at (701) 952-4847 or visit www.jrmcnd.com/hospice.