Janie Nirk Nominated for Statewide LOVE Award
Janie Nirk has spent more than two decades cheerily helping patients and visitors at Gritman Medical Center.
“It’s a good opportunity to showcase our hospital, to get around, to offer them coffee,” she said of the volunteer time she’s put in over the years at posts including the Information Desk. “It’s my favorite place to work. And sometimes, we deliver flowers.”
Nirk has been a fixture in the hospital for more than two decades, cheerily helping patients and visitors with directions and a friendly word of support to anyone who happens to buzz through the hospital on a typical day.
“I just love it. It keeps me busy, too. And I enjoy people,” she said. “I get to meet so many of our employees.”
An award couldn’t be further from her mind, but Nirk continues to receive accolades for her tireless commitment to Gritman and the community. In 2017 she won the AARP’s Andrus Award for Community Service. This spring, she was nominated locally by the Gritman Auxiliary with the Leader of Volunteer Excellence (LOVE) Award, entering competition at the state level through the Idaho Hospital Association. A statewide winner will be announced this fall.
“The award is such a nice one,” she said. “I’m really honored to be selected for the award.”
And while she’s honored to be recognized by her peers, Nirk is just as eager to return to her appointed rounds in the hospital. She’s continued to sew stuffed frogs for patients and remains treasurer of the Gritman Auxiliary, but she’s taken a hiatus from her in-person hospital work since the beginning of the pandemic.
A lack of in-person volunteering doesn’t mean her service has stopped, however. In addition to her Auxiliary work, Nirk is a member of the Gritman Board of Directors, serving as vice-chair throughout 2020. She is chairwoman of the Quality Improvement Committee, volunteers at the Potlatch Clinic and serves on the hospital’s Wellness Committee. She’s also active in a number of community groups.
“As a leader at Gritman, Janie fosters and encourages an organizational culture focused on delivering high-quality care, achieving exemplary patient satisfaction and maintaining a positive work environment,” Volunteer Services Coordinator Kim Malm said in a nominating letter.
Malm said Nirk has been an outstanding ambassador and philanthropist for the hospital. In 2019, she jump-started donations toward a Gritman imaging project that raised $120,000 to purchase a new state-of-the-art echocardiogram machine. Other efforts have included support of the Palouse Dialysis Clinic and the Martin Wellness Center that make it easier for patients to get their care close to home.
“She inspires all who know her,” said Auxiliary President Carolyn Strong, herself a 2020 LOVE Award winner. “She has a strong belief that everyone has an opportunity to enhance the lives of others. She believes each person can be all they can be, if they have the courage to reach for the challenges and meet them with full force.”