Proposed changes for AMC Auxiliary

Published 10:41 am Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Austin Medical Center Auxiliary members will decide Friday whether to accept controversial changes to their coffee and gift shop by the start of the new year.

Auxiliary members received a letter from the organization’s executive committee Sept. 2 outlining proposed changes, including plans to lay off the coffee and gift shop’s four paid staff and to stop cooking meals served in the coffee shop.

The letter to members said the changes would help the Auxiliary reverse a negative trend in the organization’s finances. It would also accommodate anticipated changes in the hospital building.

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“Expenses have gone up and revenues have gone down,” said Rod Nordeng, vice president of organizational support at Austin Medical Center (AMC) and administrative liaison between the hospital and the Auxiliary.

Auxiliary volunteer Alice Fossey writes out a receipt for a customer at the Austin Medical Center coffee shop. --Amanda Lillie/

“I would hope that (Auxiliary members) each vote based on what they think is best based on the information they’ve received,” he said.

Members can either vote on Friday to phase out the serving of meals in the coffee shop and to lay off paid volunteers by Dec. 31, 2010, or they can vote against the plan, which means the coffee shop will continue to serve meals and employ paid staff until Dec. 31, 2011 — a point at which a proposed hospital expansion may eliminate space used for cooking meals.

Former Auxiliary president Janet Borchardt said she doesn’t understand the point of a vote now if the meals and paid staff will eventually be phased out regardless of the vote.

“If it’s going to happen down the road anyway, why bother?” Borchardt said. “That’s what bothers me the most.”

Nordeng said AMC has proposed a hospital expansion, and much of the coffee and gift shop’s future beyond December 2011 depends on whether or not AMC’s governing boards approve the expansion in May 2011.