Northeast Georgia Health System Volunteers Recognized at Appreciation Luncheon

Published: Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) volunteers serving at NGMC Gainesville, Braselton and Barrow Campuses – and within programs such as Hospice and Lifeline of Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) and long term care facilities, New Horizons Limestone and Lanier Park – were honored at the Health System Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon held at First Baptist Church Gainesville. 191 volunteers were recognized with service awards, representing a cumulative total of 190,692 volunteer service hours – equivalent to a value of $4.7 million dollars.

Dot Pirkle, Life Member and former President of The Medical Center Auxiliary and member of The Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees was honored with the Marjorie Covington Smith Auxilian of the Year award. She has volunteered for NGHS for 14 years.  Dot began serving with NGHS as a volunteer buyer for The Window Shops. She quickly tallied more than 2,500 hours of service and held multiple leadership roles within The Medical Center Auxiliary Board. Dot and her husband Don Pirkle, serve as members of The Medical Center Foundation Legacy Circle, and also as members of NGMC’s Patient and Family Advisory Counsel.

Dot continues giving her time and talent by volunteering in The Window Shops, helping patients, visitors and staff select items and brightening their spirits. Friends, family and fellow volunteers describe her as a light in every situation who always has a smile on her face, no matter the circumstances.

Another volunteer, Don Fancher, former member of The Medical Center Auxiliary Board and Life Member also received a prestigious honor – the Nell Whelchel Wiegand Patient Friend award.  Don is a dedicated volunteer who has served NGHS for over 15 years – as well as donating over 4,700 hours. Don arrives at NGMC Gainesville with a smile and a sparkle in his eyes. He began serving in the radiology department and continues to serve twice weekly in the emergency services department at the Gainesville campus.

Angela Gary, executive director of Trauma and Emergency Services, states, “Don always has a smile on his face and is helpful in assisting our patients and visitors. I have spent many days in the triage area with this volunteer, and having him there has been a blessing.  Don truly lives our core values of respectful compassion, deep interdependence and passion for excellence. The emergency department (ED) is very thankful to have him volunteering in our department and being a part of our ‘ED family.’”

NGHS and The Medical Center Auxiliary recognized MaryAnna Wicker – who is an  Emergency Services Patient Friend – for 12,000 hours of service. Lee Highsmith was honored for 35 years of service. Katie Crumley, Lee’s daughter, and current member of The Medical Center Auxiliary Executive Board, accepted the award on behalf of Lee. The Auxiliary also awarded Lorena Collins, Honorary Life Member, for her 55 years of service and donating a record of over 25,000 hours of service.

Since the Auxiliary’s inception 67 years ago, NGMC volunteers have contributed more than 1.9 million hours of service, enabling The Medical Center Auxiliary to donate $8.4 million for the enhancement of services provided by NGHS.

Lynne Allen, director of the Medical Center Auxiliary said, “Each of the individuals honored with awards are commendable and very deserving of recognition. They are not only giving of their valuable time and service to benefit the patients and families served, they are also such positive ambassadors for The Medical Center Auxiliary, The Medical Center Foundation and the Health System within the community.”

For more information about volunteering with the Medical Center Auxiliary visit


Photo cutlines:

Photo 1 (L to R): Louis Smith, president, Acute/Post-Acute Operations, Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville, awards Don Fancher with the Nell Whelchel Wiegand Patient Friend award.

Photo 2 (L to R): Meg Nivens, president of the Medical Center Auxiliary, honors Dot Pirkle with the Marjorie Covington Smith Auxilian of the Year award – along with Louis Smith.

Photo 3 (L to R): Louis Smith honors Lee Highsmith’s 35 years of service to NGMC.  Katie Crumley, Lee’s daughter, accepted the award on her behalf.

Photo 4 (L to R): Carol Burrell, president and CEO of NGHS honors Lorena Collins, for her 55 years of service to NGHS, along with Louis Smith. Lorena is holding her official recognition that will be entered into the official Congressional record which will be a part of the National Archives of the 115th Congress by Representative Doug Collins.