NGHS volunteers recognized at appreciation luncheon

Published: Friday, May 10, 2019
Louis Smith, NGHS president of Acute and Post-Acute Operations, recognizes Dianne Appling, Lifeline coordinator, for the Lifeline Program's 35 years of service.

Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) volunteers were honored on Tuesday at the 2019 Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon held at the Ramsey Conference Center of Lanier Technical College. Auxiliary volunteers serve in a number of ways at Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Gainesville, Braselton and Barrow campuses and within programs such as Hospice of NGMC, NGMC’s Lifeline Program and long term care facilities New Horizons Limestone and Lanier Park.

245 volunteers were recognized with service awards, representing a cumulative total of 263,675 volunteer service hours – equivalent to a value of $6.5 million dollars. In 2018 alone, volunteers contributed nearly 70,000 hours of service which is the equivalent of 41 full-time employees and a value of more than $1.7 million to the organization.

“Our loyal and dedicated volunteers give of their time to selflessly serve each and every day,” said Ellen Toms, president of The Medical Center Auxiliary. “Their commitment to our health system and community is certainly worthy of recognition.”

Robin Prechter, Life Member of the Auxiliary, was honored with the 2019 Nell Whelchel Wiegand Patient Friend Award. Robin is a harpist and certified music therapist who has given more than 1,600 hours of service to NGHS in just six years. Research has found that therapeutic music can help patients by easing anxiety, high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, dementia, depression and other conditions.

 “Robin’s talents bless not only our patients but also our hospital staff, visitors and volunteers,” said Nancy Swann, manager of Patient Centered Care for Northeast Georgia Physicians Group, fellow Auxiliary volunteer and musician. “She is a true treasure who has used her exceptional knowledge to touch countless lives.”

Henry Monroe, Lifeline Program volunteer, also received a prestigious honor – the Marjorie Covington Smith Auxilian of the Year Award. He has volunteered for 16 years and given more than 5,300 hours of service.

“Henry is willing to serve in any capacity without hesitation,” said Dianne Appling, Lifeline Program coordinator. “From helping develop new ways for Lifeline installers to become more efficient to contacting subscribers to follow up on incidents, he serves with a humble, warm spirit and gentle sense of humor.”

NGMC’s Lifeline Program was also recognized for celebrating 35 years of service. Led by Dianne Appling for more than 31 years, Lifeline volunteers have donated more than 44,000 hours, driven more than 1 million miles and installed more than 3,000 units for seniors living within 13 counties in Northeast Georgia.  

Additional Auxiliary volunteer honorees included Lorena Collins, who has given more than 25,500 hours of service during 56 years; MaryAnna Wicker, who has given more than 12,500 hours of service; and Lee Highsmith, who has given more than 9,500 hours of service.

“Each of the individuals honored with awards, as well as all of our Auxiliary volunteers, are commendable and very deserving of recognition,” said Lynne Allen, director of The Medical Center Auxiliary. “They are generous with their time and are such positive ambassadors for The Medical Center Auxiliary, the Northeast Georgia Health System Foundation and the entire NGHS organization within our community.”

Since the Auxiliary’s inception 68 years ago, volunteers have now contributed 2 million hours of service – a cumulative value of $50.8 million – and more than $8.5 million in monetary contributions to benefit NGHS.

For more information about volunteering with The Medical Center Auxiliary, visit