Northern Colorado
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Does your group want to get involved with hospitals?

12 step calls to hospitals go back to the beginning days of A.A. with Bill and Bob. Sister Ignacio worked with alcoholics at St Thomas Hospital in Akron Ohio. It is reported that Bill and Bob and Sister Ignacio worked with over 5,000 alcoholics.

The program in Northern Colorado started in 2019 and was modeled after a program that started in 2015 in the State of Washington. A.A. in Washington reports over 500 visits since 2015.,UC Health at Medical Center of the Rockies and Poudre Valley Hospitals were the first hospitals in this area to embrace the idea of having A.A. members make visits to patients in the hospitals that were diagnosed with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

We were lucky to find a manager of the social workers for both hospitals who realized the need and the value of these visits. After a few initial presentations to the social workers, the program started. We had our first visit in January 2019 to a woman at the Medical Center of the Rockies. She was ready to hear the message. She started attending meetings as soon as she was able and also carried the message to other women that ended up in the same hospital she was in.

One of the AA members that made the visit report she was in a “funk,” that she needed to do something but was not sure what that was. That same day she received the call to make the hospital visit. She was elated. 50 calls were made in 2019. Due to Covid, 20 were made in 2020. Since the beginning of 2021, 14 visits have been made. The program has expanded to other areas in Colorado. Summit County, Denver, and surrounding Counties, such as Weld County and others.

To become involved you need to have finished the 12 steps. Women visit women and men visit men typically. We try to pair up people with similar backgrounds and ages. For example, we will match Veterans with Veterans. You do not need to have the experience of being hospitalized. Typically, minimal A.A.material is taken to the visit. A Grapevine. A Big Book may or may be given with the recommendation to read the Doctors’ Opinion. A.A. brochures on the spiritual aspects of the program, etc. The most important message to let the person in the bed know, they are not alone and there is a solution.

Recently we had a request for an American Indian woman (which we do not have on the volunteer list). However, a woman was found that used to take meetings in the Indian Reservations around the Durango area. She agreed to make the call. Both the patient and the AA volunteer hit it off and additional visits were made. Both benefited. The volunteer was thankful she was asked to make the visit.

When a request is received from the hospital for a visit, a group text is sent out on What’s App which is a secured messaging system used by many companies. It is helpful if you can sign up for What’s App (but not mandatory). If someone can make the visit they respond back. The whole group can see someone has volunteered and another person may also respond that they can also go. It is optimal that two people make the visit but due to recent hospital regulations, only one may go.

The volunteer listens a lot. They tell them a bit about their experience and provide the hope that is needed. The volunteer can make an offer to take them to a meeting or they contact someone else that can. I like to keep in touch with the patient afterward and introduce other women to her.

This has been a truly rewarding experience. Patients and social workers alike have been in communication with us about the benefits. Social workers are more comfortable bringing up the word, “alcoholism.” Patients have let us know they feel their lives have been saved by the visit.

If you would like to volunteer to make the 12 step call, get in touch with Carolyn M. at 408-806-7005 or [email protected].

If your group would like a presentation on how the program works in more detail, also contact Carolyn. District 21 Hospital program meetings are the 4th Monday of each month at 6 pm. at Harmony Pres Church, 400 E Boardwalk, Fort Collins.