In celebration of being presented The Daily Review's Inaugural Community Service Award on May 31, Memorial Hospital treated its workers to an ice cream party Tuesday.

Served by hospital director of marketing, Jeff Russell, and employees of The Daily Review, the hospital staff were in high spirits as they indulged in hot fudge sundaes.

"The employees here see some difficult things sometimes and it's great to see them enjoying the party," Russell said.

The hospital, in its present form, originated in 1959 and has steadily grown to an operation employing some 500 workers. Staying true to traditional roots, the hospital is dedicated to helping the community, a legacy that began in 1925 under founder Hila C. Mills.

"Community outreach and involvement is the heart beat of the hospital," Russell explained.

Gary Baker, President and CEO of Memorial Hospital, also joined in the festivities and commented on the generosity of his employees in the community.

"From what I've been hearing from employees, they really enjoy it here. This is their second home and that's what comes across to the community."

Baker went on to say that "it's wonderful" to be a part of an organization that has such a positive impact locally.

Multiple employees of the hospital also chimed in with their thoughts and experiences in community service.

Newly promoted Maternity Center Nurse Manager Kirsten Case said, "We try very hard to make it all about the patient. It's not just about technical skill, it's about giving a true patient and family experience."

Case also went on to talk about the work Memorial Hospital does during National Nurses Week.

"Instead of us being honored, we make it about the patient. This year we held a basket raffle and will donate the money to the family of a patient during the holidays. We do whatever we can to give back," she said.

Mary Donahue, a physical therapy assistant, said she puts extra time into helping her patients have a better experience while at the hospital. Donahue has been with Memorial Hospital for 19 years and drives 35 miles each way to work from her Forkston residence, but said she wouldn't have it any other way.

"We have a program for special needs children to teach them to plant vegetables and I also help to pick flowers for elderly patients," Donahue said.

Donahue is also active in the hospital's Camp Sensation, a retreat for special needs children to experience the fun and games that an amusement park provides with the support of trained pediatric therapists.

The Community Service Award is given by The Daily Review to one organization each year that displays exemplary charitable giving within the local community. An advisory board of six employees at the newspaper nominates and votes on businesses that are qualified for the award.

According to The Daily Review Publisher Greg Zyla, five businesses were nominated this year with Memorial Hospital receiving the most votes.

"They go far and beyond the call of duty in helping the community," Zyla said.

Tim Zyla can be reached at (570) 265-1634; or e-mail: tzyla@thedailyreview.com.