In the eyes of the St. Mary’s staff, Michael and Patricia Schuttig are the embodiment of all the hospital stands for.
Of course, the Schuttigs are much too modest to admit the impact their combined 13 years of volunteering has made on the hospital.
“After I retired, I had some spare time,” Patricia said, adding that volunteering was mainly something to occupy her time.
The St. Mary’s awards committee must have disagreed, because the Schuttigs were recently chosen for the Volunteer Healthcare Leaders Award, to be given out at the 17th Annual Celebration of Healthcare Excellence at the end of this month.
St. Mary’s Healthcare Foundation Director Jessica Smrtic laid out some of what it takes to get the award. “We take pride here in making sure the whole person is cared for,” she said, “both physically and spiritually.”
She said the 10-member board of hospital staff responsible for awarding the honors looks for people who live out that same ethic of physical and spiritual caring in their own lives, which explains why the local couple was chosen.
Patricia is the president of St. Mary’s Healthcare Auxiliary, which raises $150,000 a year for the hospital. That helps a lot with physical care. Michael lends a hand to the spiritual side of things as a minister of the Eucharist.
Every week he spends a morning walking the hospital halls offering communion to patients who wish to partake. “He offers spiritual comfort,” Smrtic said, “and an ear if they need some companionship.”
She described the couple as a dynamic duo at the hospital. “You always see the two of them together,” she said. “I don’t think they’re ever apart.”
Patricia said simply, “we have a very good marriage,” running through a list of other things they do together — and it’s quite a list. They walk, snowshoe, bike and play tennis, always together, in addition to their volunteering.
Several others will also be honored for their contribution to the hospital.
The Medical Professional Award will be presented to Dr. Emiliano Llagan of Amsterdam in appreciation of his 36 years of local anesthesiology. Smrtic explained anesthesiology as the practice of “knocking people out before major surgery” and said Llagan was very good at it right through his retirement in 2006.
“He was very well-respected by doctors and surgeons,” she said. “And he helped bring some of the best doctors to our hospital. He was a big part of our history.”
Two current staff members, Carla Pasquarelli, a certified athletic trainer, and Lisa Spagnola, a secretary in the food and nutrition services, will be honored with the St. Mary’s Caregiver Associate of the Year and Support Associate of the Year awards, respectively.
The 17th Annual Celebration of Healthcare Excellence will be Monday at the Johnstown Holiday Inn.