Touching Lives in Tillamook County

Webster’s dictionary defines faithfulness as "keeping faith; worthy of trust; honest, loyal, reliable and dependable; accurate, exact and true; and full of faith, especially religious faith." Faithfulness is surely a word that describes Dorothy Johnson, Tillamook County General Hospital (TCGH) and Faith in Action volunteer.

When the hospital and the Faith in Action Coalition opened Wellspring in 2001, Johnson was there to welcome the program’s first participants. She’s still there today, eagerly ushering in each guest with a smile and a hug when they arrive. Wellspring regulars love Johnson’s gentle manner and caring heart. She has a way of making each person feel special and loved.

Wellspring provides respite care for adults who suffer from memory loss and have cognitive or physical limitations that require direct supervision. The program offers an array of activities and entertainment. A licensed nurse is on hand to manage medications and personal care, a home-cooked lunch is provided to participants, and a private room is available for naps and rest periods. Operated by volunteers—like Johnson—and staff from TCGH, the program offers care one day a week.

“Dorothy is involved in every aspect of care for our guests at Wellspring,” said Linda Heyne, TCGH volunteer services director. “She assists with crafts, games, exercise, singing, meals and personal care.”

Johnson has even experienced a few firsts at Wellspring—dancing with a guest who enjoyed the music so much he just couldn’t sit still and donning a necklace for the first time on Shrove Tuesday. Ask Johnson, and she might even teach you the chicken dance she learned, a recent accomplishment at Wellspring!

In addition to her time at Wellspring, Johnson also has been a faithful in-home volunteer for Faith in Action. She works with several local families, providing respite for family caregivers and companionship to their loved ones. Her willingness to help often results in special relationships.

One such relationship is the one that Johnson has formed with Betty Rodman. Johnson visits Rodman weekly. Sometimes they just sit and chat. Other times they go for a drive, head over to Johnson’s house or enjoy a lunch out. Johnson often gives Rodman rides to church meetings and functions, and twice a month she picks Rodman up and ferries her to Wellspring.

Johnson is always willing to come if Rodman gives her a call and needs her. She is a contact person for Rodman with Lifeline. She also has been a reliable “step-in” when Rodman’s daughter is out of town and is always willing to help with any aspect of Rodman’s care. According to Rodman’s daughter, Johnson is calm, patient and kind. Johnson is family.

It’s no wonder Faith in Action recently honored Johnson at its annual coalition meeting. “Dorothy exemplifies faithfulness and service,” stated Heyne. “She is someone who we can always count on, and we appreciate the important service she provides to our patients and our community.”

July 01, 2005 / Adventist Health
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Debra West, Faith in Action program coordinator, and Heather Preston Wheeler, Adventist Health GLEANER correspondent