Nursing home and auxiliary celebrate 50 years

The Estevan Regional Nursing Home (ERNH) has been an important part of the Estevan area for 50 years. The nursing home’s auxiliary has been there every step of the way.

The ERNH and the auxiliary celebrated their golden anniversary on Dec. 9 during the auxiliary’s annual Christmas tea and bake sale.

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Auxiliary president Jan Dunbar, who is also a retired nursing home employee, said it was a low-key event, but it still attracted many current and former auxiliary members, along with nursing home residents and staff. 

Dunbar worked at the ERNH from 1980 to 2010. She had a couple of stints in the kitchen and also served as an aid, but the bulk of her career was spent in the recreation department.

“The reason why I joined the auxiliary is my mother-in-law moved in here way back in about 1985 or 1986,” said Dunbar, who has been the auxiliary president for the past nine years. “I could see the auxiliary being very valuable to the nursing home, so I coaxed her joining, to get her to know more people, since she was from North Portal. She didn’t know a lot of Estevan people. And so we joined the auxiliary together.”

Thirty years later, Dunbar remains a part of the auxiliary, and a strong proponent of its efforts.

Thanks to her time in the recreation department, Dunbar enjoyed a first-hand look at the auxiliary’s contributions, since recreation is among the biggest beneficiaries of the auxiliary.

The auxiliary covers the costs for outings and equipment purchased for the recreation.

“We also volunteer for different programs, and the birthday party of the month program,” said Dunbar. “Members go on outings with the residents. There’s dinner clubs and there’s lunch clubs, Kentucky Fried Chicken nights, and all these different things. Volunteers and auxiliary members help out with them.”

The auxiliary is a member agency for the United Way Estevan, and the bulk of their revenues come from the United Way. Events like the tea and bake sales are also important fundraisers. They also have raffles for items created by residents, or items donated from the community.

Residents are very appreciative of the auxiliary’s efforts, Dunbar said, as the auxiliary often receives compliments for the programs that are offered.

The auxiliary has a number of members who have been involved with the organization for many years. Dunbar noted that Esther Colbow, who died last month, was a charter member.

“I remember when I started here, Esther was working in recreation, and was a member of the auxiliary,” said Dunbar. “Her mother was in here at that time, and her grandmother had been in here, so she was really a part of the home. I always called her my No. 1 volunteer, because she was there all day long lots of times.”

Christine Stephany, the ERNH’s nurse manager, said that when she thinks of the nursing home’s milestone, it causes her to reflect on the residents, staff and auxiliary.

“I think if these walls could talk, you’d hear a few stories over the years about what’s gone on,” said Stephany. “I want to thank the auxiliary. Both the senior members and the newer members. They volunteer with us for programming. They work our dinner clubs and our Bingos.”

The auxiliary has also fundraised to purchase tables and chairs inside the ERNH dining room, she said. They also upgraded the building’s Wi-Fi, acquired a computer station for residents, and each year they purchase Christmas presents for the residents.

“It enhances the care in the building, and makes it a community and a family,” said Stephany.

John Knoch, the vice-president of corporate and finance from the Sun Country Health Region, was on hand to pay tribute to the auxiliary and the ERNH.

“The auxiliary does a tremendous job to augment and supplement the care that everybody receives,” said Knoch. “It’s the little special things that really add a lot of value and a lot of meaning to people’s lives.”

The auxiliary does a lot for residents throughout the year, and Sun Country appreciates their efforts.

Dunbar the nursing home has been a special place for 50 years. She knows a lot of work has been put into constructing a new nursing home in Estevan, and a lot of money has been raised. And she looks forward to the day when it is built.

The auxiliary currently has about a dozen members. They meet during the first Wednesday of the month at 1:30 p.m. at the nursing home. Dunbar said they are always looking for new members, and they can always use more members for their programs.

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