Shirley Murphy, a Pink Lady volunteer at The Memorial Hospital, has worked for the institution for 30 years. Friday was her last shift at the old hospital campus before the gift shop moves to the new facility.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Shirley Murphy, a Pink Lady volunteer at The Memorial Hospital, has worked for the institution for 30 years. Friday was her last shift at the old hospital campus before the gift shop moves to the new facility.

Pink Ladies uncertain about role at new hospital


Since 1968, Shirley Murphy has seen her share of changes at The Memorial Hospital.

She’s sat through several administrations and the construction of an addition.

Through it all, she worked the switchboard as a receptionist, had a stint in the business office and for the past 10 years has offered her time as a Pink Lady volunteer.

Now, she and her fellow Pink Ladies face the most drastic change of all.

A new location, a new building and an uncertain future await the group at 750 Hospital Loop.

While the Pink Ladies previously were the first point of contact for all guests, TMH officials said they have hired new workers for the position of front desk concierge.

The concierge will be responsible for greeting visitors and helping them with their needs. Pink Lady volunteers still will run the gift shop, Pink Lady president Anna Rippy said.

Many of the volunteers are unsure of what their role will be alongside the concierges.

All they know is it won’t be the same.

“We’ll still welcome people to the hospital just like we always did,” Murphy said.

On Friday, Murphy worked her last shift in the old hospital at 745 Russell St.

The shelves of the gift shop she had watched for a decade were now empty of the flowers, toys and cards they once displayed to hospital visitors.

For the last time, Murphy sat behind her desk and acted as receptionist, greeter and friend to anyone who came through the doors.

“I just enjoy working with the public,” she said. “I really enjoyed working here, and when you’re retired, it’s nice to do something worthwhile.”

When the new hospital opens Thursday, with it comes a new gift shop and a revised set of responsibilities for the hospital volunteers.

“I think it’s going to be a lot different,” Murphy said. “It’s going to be more professional. But we don’t really know what our job will be. There are still a lot of things to iron out anytime you have a move like this.”

Rippy said she had heard about possibilities of the new Pink Lady jobs, however most of the reorganization still is up in the air.

“We might have someone at the front providing support for the concierge,” Rippy said. “Right now, we’re lone rangers up there.”

She said the new hospital will need a concierge because someone will need to man the desk from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and many of the Pink Ladies are unable to work late.

But she said she knows the Pink Ladies still will be needed.

“I would think so,” she said. “Last year at our Christmas party they told us we saved $75,000 in salaries. But it will take us a while to get things sorted out in the new hospital.”

No matter who is the first point of contact in the new hospital, the Pink Ladies understand the importance of the first person who smiles at a hospital visitor.

“It really makes a difference on the impression people get when they first come in if you’re friendly,” Murphy said.

Whatever her duty may be, Murphy will continue to offer a friendly smile and a helping hand to whoever crosses her path.

And soon, she’ll get to do what she loves and help the community in a new, state-of-the-art facility with a larger gift shop.

“We just volunteer and whatever we’re asked to do, we’ll do that.” she said. “Whatever jobs we have to do, I’ll be happy just to be working in the new hospital.”


j4mom7 7 years, 5 months ago

I've been in other hospitals in Colorado, California and Arizona, and in virtually every one, there has always been a "Pink Lady" at the reception desk ready to greet and assist, in addition to the receptionist who is there. The receptionist may be the one who answers the phone, and tells you where the department you're looking for is, but it's the Pink Lady who gets you there. These wonderful women have been part of the backbone of customer service in TMH for as long as I've been here. And they've been the sole reception for quite some time now, since the paid position was eliminated as a cost-saving measure. It would be a pity to loose their smiling, helpful faces in the new facility. That wouldn't neccessarily be progress.


xrsareus 7 years, 5 months ago

Keep the Pink !!!! They are an important part of the hospital. What a dedicated group of lady's.


David Moore 7 years, 5 months ago

The pink ladies, to my knowledge, are staying...they just will not be the sole person at the front desk, if that is where they decide to use them. Volunteers are a vital part of any hospital organization and it would be wrong to do away with them completely. Our volunteers have put in countless hours to help staff, guide patients and visitors and run the gift shop...which if I am not mistaken, they own(not the shop but it's contents). I have heard nothing about getting rid of them, just that they are unsure of what tasks they will be performing each day. What they DO need is some younger volunteers, the current pink ladies are getting up there and it is harder for them to get around and perform tasks, arthritis is a bitch. With the security measures in place and the layout of the building, it would be difficult for them to have access and get around. I am always greeted with a smile and a hello no matter what the situation or mood, I cannot see this hospital operating without them in some capacity.


xrsareus 7 years, 5 months ago

Volunteering is becoming a thing of the past. Everyone want’s to get paid for everything. Just look at every organization that depends of volunteers, they just can't find younger members. It is sad but true….


grannyrett 7 years, 5 months ago

Years ago, there were candy stripers at the hospital. I'm sure that many young kids would enjoy helping patients as we did back in the 60's. After school, we would go to the hospital and bring patients fresh water, deliver supper trays and help those who needed it and return the trays to the kitchen. There were different areas of the hospital we could help in, and we felt we could really make a difference in someones life. It was a joy to be so some assistance to those who really appreciated it. Why this stopped, I don't know, but those of us who did it, really enjoyed it--just as much as the pink ladies do. What would we do with out those who give of their time to help others? I hope we never have to find out---God bless them all


David Moore 7 years, 5 months ago

My guess on the candy striper thing is that it has been phased out due to lack of interest by our youth and the evolution of HIPPA laws. Teenage kids do not understand privacy laws and the art of keeping their mouth shut, thereby increasing the liability of a medical facility. Some adults have trouble with it as well but are usually more apt to understand the ramifications of telling others about what went on with who during the day. Sadly, it still happens even with the threat of termination and federal prosecution, for those people it is only a matter of time.


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