Community First receives face masks and shields
by JASON MEREL
Community First Medical Center, 5645 W. Addison St., received personal protective equipment from Harbor Freight Tools last week as part of a nationwide effort to support medical staff on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to Harbor Freight spokesman Craig Hoffman, the nationwide donation included approximately 44 million pairs of nitrile gloves, 100,000 N95 masks and tens of thousands of face shields. Hoffman said Harbor Freight has stores in over 1,000 communities in the country and every store packed whatever they had in stock of each of these items and sent them to their nearest hospital. Harbor Freight Tools is located at 6420 W. Fullerton Ave.
"This was all done so quickly, with the goal of just getting it to hospitals, that we didn’t take a whole lot of time to count out each store’s donation," Hoffman said. "We pretty much donated our entire supply, nationwide."
However, he confirmed that two pallets of personal protective equipment were delivered to the medical center.
The donation comes as Community First Medical Center and hospitals around the nation brace for an expected surge of reported COVID-19 cases over the coming weeks.
"We’re seeing an increasing amount of cases every day," Community First Medical Center chief operating officer Teryna Brown said. "We encourage anyone who is symptomatic to stay home and self-quarantine first, however, we encourage anyone experiencing trouble breathing to seek emergency treatment."
Brown said the hospital has been preparing for a potential surge since January by doubling the amount of ventilators in the hospital and doubling the hospital’s supply of intravenous fluids. Brown said the hospital administration has been maximizing their vendor allocations as well to maintain adequate supplies.
In addition to this, Brown said the hospital has raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour and given staff directly handling patients in COVID-19 units a 5 percent bonus.
"Staff is dedicated to the community," chief nursing officer Mitul Patel said. "They work very hard and take care of their patients extremely well."
Brown said that she is optimistic that stay-at-home procedures have been implemented in outbreak areas in time to prevent further surges in reported cases after April.
Brown added that following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, especially regarding hand washing, social distancing and self-quarantine, is important to slow the spread of COVID-19.