Tom Yakopin wanted to thank doctors, nurses and staff at Washington Health System – Washington Hospital for their efforts to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, so Yakopin, owner of West Penn Life and Health Inc., sent them pizzas Thursday.
Yakopin’s gesture also gave his company a chance to support a local company, 4 Star Pizza.
“We were analyzing what’s happening here, and I’m at home safe and (my employees) are at home safe because we can work remotely, but I was thinking how important it is that there are people who get up every day and basically go to the front line, and how important the physicians and nurses and those people who are there rendering care are,” said Yakopin. “I thought it would be nice to do something kind for the people in our community who are really making a difference.”
Other local companies and organizations have joined in the effort to provide a meal for the hospital’s health care workers. Among them are ABARTA Coca-Cola Beverages, Cura, Eat N Park, Mosites Construction, Pitt Specialty and US Food, who are pitching in beverages, cookies, monetary contributions and other items. Beallsville Centerville Richeyville Lions Club also sent Osso’s Pizza to the hospital this week.
“There have been so many people who have stepped forward, and we are grateful for their generosity,” said Sara Schumacher, executive director of Washington Health System Foundation.
In addition, other businesses have contacted the hospital to provide food for upcoming days.
Schumacher said more than 100 individuals and businesses have also donated personal protective equipment, or PPE, and made cash contributions to the WHS Foundation to provide protective gear for the doctors, nurses and staff as the cases of COVID-19 patients begin to increase.
There are critical shortages of protective gear across the country, leaving doctors and nurses to treat novel coronavirus patients with inadequate protection. At some hospitals, health care providers are reusing face masks, or using homemade masks or bandannas as a last resort.
“The outpouring of generosity is one of the coolest things I’ve been involved with in my 18 years in fundraising. I’ve never been so proud of our community and our hospital,” said Schumacher. “We want to make sure people know right now we are OK, but we’re preparing for the unknown of the future. That’s what every health system in our country is doing now. They’re all reaching out to try to have the number of supplies they’ll need, but the supply is limited. We are full-court press at this point with many departments helping in the procurement.”
Schumacher said the foundation is also assembling care packages for the staff to leave in break rooms.
“Everyone is being asked to do more with less. If there’s anything we can do to show them that we’re thinking of them, and that the community is thinking of them, and that we appreciate their sacrifice and what they are doing, we want to do that,” she said.
“Schumacher said one of the most important things the community can do to give the hospital a better chance to have the staff and medical supplies to treat patients is to shelter at home and limit outings to essential activities.
“If people can help us by staying safe and staying healthy, that’s helping our hospital and helping our staff by not being in a crisis situation,” said Schumacher.