Northside Hospital volunteer Christa Krause knits blankets for the hospital’s nursery.

Christa Krause knows Northside Hospital from both sides of the bed. The Brookhaven resident has been a patient there several times, and in a few weeks, she’ll be honored for having logged 29,000 hours of service as a volunteer.

“I’ve had lumbar and ovarian cancer surgery and had a pacemaker put in,” said Krause, who’s 81. “I have to go to Northside. I know every doctor, every technician.”

Krause also knows most of the 265 members of the Northside Hospital Auxiliary. She first started pitching in back in 1973 when a friend suggested she get involved. Over the years, she has held a variety of positions that gave her the chance to meet other volunteers and staff members across the hospital complex.

“I’ve done everything except pastoral services and work in the pharmacy,” said Krause. “I started out escorting patients to and from their cars and their rooms. In those days, we took everyone personally to each lab – now you get a map and are directed because we’ve expanded so much you can’t do that anymore.

“I’ve also worked in the nursery, and I spent eight years on the oncology floor, assisting the staff with answering phone calls, taking specimens to the lab, setting and cleaning up rooms, whatever things people didn’t have time to do, I did.”

Krause’s credits also include time spent in the emergency department and working with the Auxiliary Puppeteers, an outreach program for schools that teaches drug and alcohol awareness.

Krause’s loyalty to Northside was so consistent that even after temporary moves overseas with her husband’s work, she immediately went back to the hospital to work.

“We were in Egypt for five years and Australia for three, but each time I came back, my little car knew exactly which way to go,” she said with a laugh. “One of the nice things about going to Northside has always been that it’s just three miles from my house.”

Through the years, Krause held several positions on various hospital boards, and from 2000 to 2002, served as the president of the auxiliary.

“That was practically a full-time job,” she said. “The auxiliary does an awful lot of things: We’ve bought mammography and ultrasound machines, founded a research center for breast cancer and kept track of 200-plus active volunteers. But it was also a very fulfilling job.”

Sally Joyce, a past president of the auxiliary, got to know Krause quite well.

“Christa was the first person I worked with when I came to Northside in 1996,” she said. “She has become a mentor to me, as well as a friend. She has such a volunteer spirit and soul and has always worked from her heart.”

Her husband’s recent illness has caused Krause to scale back considerably. She now limits herself to overseeing the auxiliary office a few hours each week. But she also logs plenty of volunteer time crocheting baby blankets for the special care nursery. Her work produces about 90 blankets every year.

“I’m a professional volunteer, I suppose,” she said with a laugh. “But I love it. I’ve always done something; I can’t just sit around. And having the camaraderie of all these great volunteers has been wonderful.”