By Catharin Shepard – Staff writer –
Butterball donated Wednesday over $2,400 worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) to local healthcare agencies. Hospitals and other care providers across the country are struggling with shortages of PPE for doctors and nurses.
Cape Fear Valley Health, FirstHealth of the Carolinas and Autumn Care in Raeford received the donation. The products included gloves, masks and gowns. Hoke County officials helped coordinate the donation.
Trish Salvadia, complex safety manager for Butterball, said employees acted quickly when the company got the request for donations of PPE.
“We have great people, great support. As soon as the call came in, we just got right on it and made sure we could contribute in some way to the county,” Salvadia said.
The company had PPE supplies on hand because they’re used in the daily operations at the food processing plant.
“We prepare food for the community, so we use all of this as our standard PPE. Just keeping everything – clothes, hands, faces covered if necessary, to make sure that we’re putting out a sanitary product,” Salvadia said.
The Hoke County Board of Commissioners thanked the company for the donation.
“We believe that our citizens are number one. We want to keep them safe and do all that we can to keep them safe,” Commission Chairman James Leach said. “This donation comes from Butterball, it is a blessing for Hoke County and it’s an honor for us to be able to have this donation come from one of our local businesses. When the time comes, everyone knows to step up. That is a great thing.”
Dr. Roxie Wells, president of Cape Fear Valley’s Hoke hospital, and Tara Ledford, FirstHealth of the Carolinas director of corporate communications, accepted the donations on behalf of the hospitals. A representative from Autumn Care was also present to accept the donation.
Commission Vice Chairman Harry Southerland recognized Hoke Emergency Management Coordinator Andrew Jacobs for helping put the donation together.
“He did an outstanding job contacting Butterball and Butterball came through for us, and we want to thank them personally on behalf of the entire county,” Southerland said.
The donation included the N95 masks that are particularly hard to get at the moment, Commissioner Tony Hunt said.
“We’re thankful to have a partner like Butterball that would help us in this time of need,” Hunt said. “The N95 masks we know are the masks that folks are trying to buy online. You’ve got local government, federal government, hospitals, everybody trying to get these so they’re at a premium of trying to get them.”
While accepting the donation, Wells also gave the county board an update on Cape Fear Valley Hoke Hospital’s preparations for COVID-19 (see the posted Youtube video for her remarks).
“Everything’s going well. I feel like we’re in a good place, but of course this changes day to day, hour to hour, but I feel like we’re in a good place,” Wells said. “We are seeing patients where we are trying to rule them in or out. That number is picking up a little bit, but I think we’re well prepared, staff is well trained, hospitals are working together across the state. And this is amazing, Butterball is amazing.”
The Cape Fear Valley staff members have been “phenomenal,” Wells said.
“They’re doing whatever they need to do to take care of people, and it’s just phenomenal,” she said.
Ledford said the donation was timely.
“We’ve been calling a lot of our resources to try and get more supplies,” Ledford said. “I think every hospital system in the state of North Carolina is struggling with some of the PPE, especially the sanitizing wipes, the masks. So we’ve been putting a call out with the North Carolina Emergency Management and the county Emergency Management, we appreciate everything that the counties are doing.”
The community has come together, including businesses and individuals, to support the local hospitals, Ledford said.
“We also have a lot of vendors in all of our different neighboring counties that have started manufacturing different materials than what they’re used to manufacturing, and I think that’s just amazing to see the community…we also on a local level, we have a huge community group that’s come together making masks,” she said.
There are drop-off bins for sewn fabric face masks outside all of the FirstHealth fitness centers, including the one in Raeford. The hospital system asks that people making the masks don’t use rubber bands or anything that might melt, because the masks are run through a sanitizing system before use.
“We do put them through the sterilization process, and rubber bands won’t hold up during that process,” Ledford said.
The presentation was live streamed to the county’s Facebook page. Several commissioners urged residents to follow guidelines for staying safe.
“We want to just say to all of our citizens out there, be safe, practice safe distance with one another, wash your hands and do all of those things because listen, folks, this thing is real, and it could come to our county worse than it is,” Hunt said. “We’re praying that it doesn’t but we want to be prepared for it if it does, so God bless you and God be with you.”
Commissioner Allen Thomas said that in his job, he’s seen what’s going on in hospitals. That’s why the donation from Butterball was so important, he said.
“All of the protection is needed to make sure our nurses and doctors, those on the front lines, are safe,” Thomas said. “I was at the hospital this morning, got off at 3 a.m. I know what it’s like to be right there in the intensive care units. Nurses, doctors are afraid quite frankly, and they want to make sure that they have all the protection that they need so they’re safe when they go home to their families.”
There have been news reports of some hospitals in other areas resorting to using trash bags as impromptu masks, Thomas said.
“Donations like this make it possible that those working to protect us here in Hoke County, they won’t have to do that,” he said.
The county is posting updates on the COVID-19 pandemic at its website, readyhoke.org, and the county’s Facebook page.
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