When the history of Blue Mountain Hospital, in Blanding, is written, his won’t be the first name associated with the town’s long-awaited hospital, but Harold Lyman’s name should be recorded in a place of prominence.
The hospital opened in July 2009, after a decade of struggle and controversy, sacrifice and tenacity, and a vast amount of unwavering faith. Among those supporting the hospital through all its trials was Harold Lyman. Once the hospital opened, he helped lead the effort to establish a volunteer organization to support the hospital in any way possible.
“We got permission from the administrator to start a volunteer program. We had such admiration for the people who had worked so hard to get the hospital, we wanted to contribute something,” Lyman recalled recently. “The first thing you need when you start a new program is a little bit of money and that’s why we got the quilt raffle going. The quilt was donated by the Grayson Country Quilters, and in November and December we raffled it off at Clark’s Market. That money, and donations from Wells Fargo Foundation and County Commissioner Phil Lyman’s CPA business, gave us enough money to buy uniforms and do some of the other things that were necessary to get started.”
The Blue Mountain Hospital Volunteer program began, unofficially in November 2009. By 2010 the program was up and running with Harold as the program director. Now, nearly eight years later, the program is still going strong and Harold has decided it’s time to step down. A few years ago he handed the reins of the program to Joel Tate, another of the original volunteer group, who became the program director. Lyman has remained a hospital volunteer until recently.
“It’s been inspiring, very satisfying and fulfilling,” Lyman said of his time as a volunteer. “It’s been rewarding and I enjoyed it a lot. I hated to give it up, but other pressures kind of took priority.”
As Lyman recalled his experience as a volunteer, he noted the first group of volunteers included Joel and Barbara Tate, Jed and Candice Lyman, Geri and Carl Osborn, along with Harold and his wife Arlene.
He said at one time the volunteer program had as many as fifteen members, doing a lot of different things to start. However, it finally settled into the area of greatest need and the easiest to work with. At that time most of the work was focused into the dialysis unit. Lyman said the group developed a motto during its first meeting, Reach Out, Do Good!
“That’s kind of been the philosophy of the program from the beginning,” Lyman said. “We had such admiration for the people who spent ten or fifteen years putting it all together, in spite of numerous obstacles and problems and things, and the people we’ve had to work with over the years like Donna Singer. She stepped in as the administrator at the time when it was looking pretty tough and brought it to life and made it grow and develop and prosper. And, of course, Jeremy Lyman has picked up where she left off as CEO and is doing a great job.”
But, Lyman added, the person who worked primarily with the volunteer program was Gail Northern, who was assigned to be the Coordinator and Communicator with the program. He said Gail was marvelous, not only working with her own job but also working with the volunteers.
Katie Shumway later took over the assignment to work with the volunteers and Lyman said she’s been wonderful as well.
“Joel took over the director’s job when I needed a change and he’s done a terrific job. He and his wife, Barbara,” Lyman continued. “The other people we worked with in Dialysis, Laurie Okkema – former Dialysis Manager – and Jordon Bradford who replaced Laurie – have been great to work with, and supportive and cooperative.”
It’s been almost eight years since the volunteer program started, and Lyman said he’s pleased with the way it has progressed. However, it hasn’t entirely lived up to his expectations.
“We had hoped that there’d be more people who would want to be interested and involved in it with more assignments that we could do to help out with the hospital situation. But it didn’t work out that way. There didn’t seem to be enough work in other areas that seemed to be ongoing or important enough to need volunteers,” he added.
Lyman also recognized Becca Ivy as one of the newer volunteers at the hospital. He stressed that Ivy and all the volunteers have been wonderful, all of them, and they are greatly appreciated.
“I don’t know how to adequately express how great it is to have such a facility as Blue Mountain Hospital in the community, and the wonderful people who staff it and provide all the services that are available there. As you look at our economy in the community I think healthcare is the number one job provider. Education is second and the tourism industry is third. So it ranks right up there in providing jobs and they are good jobs,” Lyman observed.
Lyman’s involvement with volunteer program comes as no surprise to those who know Harold. He’s been involved with helping people his entire life. For the past fifteen years Harold has been assisting tourists at the Blanding Visitors Center, where he was working during the interview for this story. When asked what he plans to do next with his life, he smiled and said, “I keep saying I’m going to die in the saddle. I plan to stay here, involved with the county tourism effort and the city tourism effort through the Blanding area travel council. There’s a lot of good things going on in all those programs.