June 24, 2020

LWCC Foundation Awards Grants to Support Frontline Healthcare Workers

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Thibodaux’s St. James Hospital isn’t a big medical facility, but it has been hit with an overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases. Needless to say, the influx has put a tremendous burden on frontline healthcare workers, who are being called on to serve as an extension of patients’ families and as patient advocates in the absence of family and friends, who because of safety protocols often aren’t allowed in hospitals. A grant award from the LWCC Foundation will enable the center to provide mental health support to workers struggling with the emotional toll of treating — and losing — so many severely ill patients, as well as the fears they face around contracting the disease and bringing it home to their families.

St. James is just one of many medical facilities across the state receiving grants from the LWCC Foundation. In an ongoing effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 and help alleviate the personal and economic strain on some of those most affected by the disease, the foundation has awarded $500,000 to 24 hospitals and hospital foundations to support frontline healthcare workers.

"Our vision is to make Louisiana home to the healthiest and safest workforce in America,” said John Hawie, LWCC Foundation Board Chair. “Right now, a sector of this workforce is being challenged in unprecedented ways while trying to make Louisiana citizens safe and healthy, and we're honored to help them continue to fight this important battle.”

With medical supplies running low at many medical centers — even as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to spike in areas statewide — some grants recipients will use their awards to purchase much-needed PPE and additional supplies. Others will allocate the funds to support critical childcare for frontline hospital workers, everyone from nurses volunteering their time to medical residents to staff making minimum wage. And some centers will use the grants to buy iPads that enable isolated patients to connect with their loved ones or provide groceries to those working long shifts or facing food insecurity.

Lafayette General Medical Center has been highly focused on keeping staff safe during the pandemic and their efforts have proven successful. To date, just 1% of staff has contracted COVID-19.  The hospital plans to maintain this low infection rate, even as they continue to treat patients in the months ahead.  Lafayette General will use the grants funds to restock PPE and other critical supplies to help ensure frontline workers have much-needed safety supplies.

“COVID-19 has placed unprecedented forms of stress on the healthcare system," said Kendra Harris, MD MSc, Tulane University School of Medicine. Frontline providers — from doctors to nurses to essential personnel like custodians— had to worry about securing adequate personal protective equipment. The workforce had to grapple with a childcare crisis of epic proportions with schools and daycares shutting abruptly. Additionally, many industries are shedding jobs. It is through the help of community partners, such as the LWCC Foundation, that we were able to rise and meet this challenge. And although we are through the first surge, we all must prepare for what the fall and winter hold.”  

The grants make up the second phase of the foundation’s Louisiana Well Again: COVID-19 Response Package, a $1.1 million, three-phase grants and gifts package dedicated to helping Louisiana respond to and recover from the pandemic. Phase 1 entailed the distribution of a $100,000 gift to Feeding Louisiana, a nonprofit organization that supports food banks across the state. Phase 3 will see another $500,000 in grant money awarded, this time to fund initiatives focused on long-term solutions to improve the health, wellness, and safety of Louisiana workers, and will begin once there is greater clarity on the impact of COVID-19 on Louisiana’s workforce.

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