St. Mary’s Seeking Community Help to Fight COVID-19

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread in our region, St. Mary’s Health Care System is asking the community to help its hospitals in Athens, Lavonia and Greensboro fight the virus.

“Our response to COVID-19 requires an abundance of resources that would benefit from funding,” said Ansley Martin, Foundation Director. “We are receiving offers of help from generous people and businesses in our communities and we want to thank them for their support in this extraordinary time. More donations are needed and deeply appreciated.”

St. Mary’s has created a COVID-19 Response Fund to assist with purchasing medical equipment, masks, ventilators, nebulizers, protective clothing and other items needed by patients and colleagues. Anyone who wants to help can make a tax-deductible contribution at www.stmaryshealthcaresystem.org/foundations. Donors can designate which facility they want their donation to be used for.

In addition, St. Mary’s is seeking donations from the community of items needed to help protect colleagues and patients as the global crisis continues to expand.

“Our supplies are still in good to fair shape for the majority of items our colleagues and providers need,” said Supply Chain Director Phil Smith. “We continue to receive allocations and are checking every possible avenue to keep supplies coming in. To protect the safety of our patients and colleagues, we are working hard to stay ahead of the curve, and the community can help.”

Here are items St. Mary’s three hospitals are currently accepting. All items must be in original packaging. To make a donation, please contact the Foundation office at foundation@stmarysathens.org. Foundation staff will provide information on how, when and where to make your donation, and can provide a record of your donation for tax purposes.

  • Wipes: bleach or antimicrobial
  • N95 masks, sometimes called respirators
  • Disposable face masks
  • Eye protection including face shields and safety goggles
  • Disposable gowns
  • Disposable gloves, especially non-latex
  • Disposable surgical caps
  • Disposable foot covers
  • Hand sanitizer

Please note that St. Mary’s cannot accept medications, blankets, clothing, homemade isolation gowns, or 3D-printed ventilator parts. Anyone who wishes to donate blood should visit the American Red Cross blood donation webpage at www.redcrossblood.org

In addition, many people and businesses have asked about donating food for colleagues and physicians. Due to the risk of accidental contamination, St. Mary’s cannot accept donations of food from non-commercial kitchens. However, if your restaurant would like to donate snacks or meals for colleagues, or if you would like to purchase food from a restaurant for colleagues, please contact the Foundation office to make arrangements. You can also coordinate with the Foundation to purchase cafeteria vouchers from St. Mary’s Food Services for the hospital staff so they can enjoy a complimentary a meal or snack in the cafeteria.

“We have received everything from coffee to ramen, and our staff is extremely grateful,” Martin said. “The outpouring of support from the communities we serve is heart-warming. We just have to ask that you contact us in advance so that we can receive your donation without putting our patients and colleagues at risk.”

Finally, many people and groups have asked about making cloth masks for healthcare workers. According to recent studies, cloth masks do not provide the same level of protection as manufactured masks. However, cloth masks can be used by staff who are not caring for patients diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19. (Staff caring for these patients must wear manufactured personal protective equipment or PPE). 

“We can accept hand-sewn masks to help stretch our supplies of medical-grade masks,” Martin said. “They help us conserve our supply of manufactured masks for colleagues who need them. If someone wants to make and donate cloth masks, they can contact our office for detailed sewing instructions.”

Remember to practice the essential steps to slow the progress of COVID-19, as recommended by the CDC. For complete information on how to protect yourself and your loved ones, visit www.cdc.gov.

  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
  • If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people
  • If you have symptoms – especially fever, cough or shortness of breath – stay home and call your doctor

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