Inge Booker, 71, has logged nearly 7,000 hours walking the hallways of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle. And she hasn”t been paid for a single one.
Booker was recently voted BMH-GT”s Volunteer of the Year by hundreds of her fellow volunteers due to her seemingly inexhaustible work ethic.
“If anyone needs a replacement, they call her,” said Christina Brown, BMH-GT”s marketing director.
After 11 years of volunteering, Booker, a native German who met her American husband when he was stationed in Germany, was recognized for her service as BMH-GT celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. She puts in an average of 20 hours each week delivering newspapers, flowers and mail to patients in the hospital”s bed tower. She also sits on the Golden Triangle Auxiliary board.
How has the hospital changed in the 11 years you”ve been here?
The hospital didn”t change as a whole, but it”s more modern now. They”re trying to get more into it every day. I should say, mainly, that they”re trying their best to do everything they can for patients.
What brought you here?
I just didn”t want to stay home. After my husband passed away, after a year of traveling I thought, well, I”m going to have to look and see if I can find something that could occupy my mind. And I think this is very important when you get older, because all my life I”ve been doing work and had five children. It”s very important to me to be under people.
What is it about the job that keeps you around?
First of all, the people at the hospital are very nice, very friendly. Coming from a different country, this is very important to me and I understand there are a lot of other people who are in the same boat that I am and like to connect with people. That”s the type of person I am.
How long have you been in the states/Columbus?
I”m here 51 years. It”s going to be almost 15 years (in the Golden Triangle). I live between Columbus and West Point.
How do you keep this job fun?
Every time I come, there is something new. And the people are changing constantly. There”s different patients and the people I work with are very nice. We can joke around. It”s just a light atmosphere.
What did you start off doing on the second floor before moving to the bed tower lobby?
I was just helping the nurses carry water and ice or something. Or if one of the patients wanted something, I would take them.
It”s a completely different atmosphere down here. You”re busy all the time because there”s people coming and asking you questions and people want to know where the rooms are.
Have you thought about trying to transition to a paid position?
No, not at my age. I worked for 25 years in electronics and this would not fit in. This is just the right thing for me to do.
What did you do in electronics?
I was in solid states. I was sitting, timing for all kinds of things, street lights … We”ve done contract work for the Army, Navy and Air Force. I worked on the F-16 (fighter jet) with the boards. I did almost anything you can think of.
You don”t want to get a technical job here?
No. I”m a long time over that. A long time.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.