Penn Highlands Healthcare Chief Operating Officer Mark Norman

NORMAN

DuBOIS — Members of the DuBois Area School District donated more than 6,000 masks to Penn Highlands Healthcare to assist the hospital with patient care during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The DuBois Area School District donated 400 N95’s, 4,600 surgical masks, 250 procedure masks and 825 masks,” PHH Chief Operating Officer Mark Norman said during a telephone news conference this week. “We very much appreciate the generosity that the DuBois Area School District has demonstrated to us.”

When contacted by the Courier Express, Benton said when she learned that the hospital was anticipating a shortage of personal protective equipment, she contacted PHH President John Sutika and Cloyd Geedey, vice president of Supply Chain Management for PHH, to tell them the district had several thousand face masks in storage from the 2009-10 H1N1 outbreak.

Benton said Geedey told her that the need was “urgent” and they would take any and all personal protective equipment the district would be willing to provide.

“Although our schools are closed, I called upon our school nurses to help me to quickly locate the 6,000 masks throughout the district and our maintenance supervisor (Steve Dunlap) drove to every building to retrieve them,” said Benton. “Within hours, I had 6,000 masks in my office ready for pick up.”

While Benton’s focus is clearly on planning to provide continuity of education through an online learning platform for district students, she said she knew she could do more to support area healthcare workers.

Knowing that Jeff Tech vocational technical school in Reynoldsville has a health assistance program, Benton also contacted the school’s director, Barry Fillman.

“Dr. Fillman was most gracious with my request for support and made arrangements with Cloyd to obtain the inventory of personal protective equipment available at Jeff Tech,” said Benton. “By this point, I felt pretty good about the support we were able to provide within a day but it was evident to me that this anticipated shortage is not exclusive to Penn Highlands DuBois.”

Benton then contacted Mark DiRocco, executive director of the Pennsylvania Superintendent’s Association, Mark DiRocco, and asked that he request support for personal protective equipment from all superintendents in the state of Pennsylvania. DiRocco said he would be happy to do his part to support the area’s health care systems.

“Hopefully some other districts will have a supply of personal protective equipment that they can donate as well,” said Benton. “I greatly appreciate the service that those in the health care industry provide. Now more than ever, they are putting their lives on the line to save ours. I encourage everyone in our community to do everything they can to support them. On behalf of the DuBois Area School District, we thank you for your service.”

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