In 10,000 masks Covenant effort, Walters a key player

As hospitals and doctors offices re-open and the requirements for face coverings continues, Farragut resident Stacey Walters is part of Covenant Health’s campaign to provide 10,000 masks for its patients and visitors.

“We realize not everyone has a mask for their personal use, and we need to save the masks we already have for our staff, so we started the campaign,” said Walters, director of Operations for Marketing and Physicians Services with Covenant Health. “We started April 27 and are collecting masks at all 10 Covenant Health hospitals, along with our doctor’s offices and other locations.”

She said Covenant Health is following “CDC and Knox County Health Department guidelines” in requiring their employees and patients wear masks, which was essential as many hospitals began allowing non-essential services to resume May 4.

So far, more than 6,000 masks have been received at sites including Parkwest Medical Center, Thompson Cancer Survival Center and Fort Sanders Health and Fitness Center.

“Every mask donated allows us to save masks we already have for our doctors and nurses,” Walters said, who added, “We have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from people willing to help us provide this service.

“It’s just another reminder that we are all in this together.”

Katrina Aberdeen, nurse practitioner with Tennessee Orthopaedic Clinic and First Baptist Concord member, is among seamstresses who have responded.

“My family, office staff, the community of quilters/seamstress and myself have been making personal protective equipment since this started (face shields and gowns), then Covenant shared their need for masks, so we switched our production line,” said Aberdeen in an e-mail, estimating she has made more than 2,000 masks for various campaigns.

“The community has really pulled together to help healthcare workers and it’s citizens,” she added. “We all benefit from the masks as protection from the spread.

“We are blessed that we have not been hit hard like New York.”

Farragut resident and prolific quilter Dottie Godolphin, who started “Mercy Masks” and has been leading that group since March to make masks for health care professionals and others in need, eagerly responded to Aberdeen’s request and provided 100 masks herself just last week.

Several others in her group contributed almost 400 more.

In addition to Knoxville area locations, Covent Health also has donation boxes at Clinton Family Physicians, Crossville Medical Group, Family Clinic of Oak Ridge, Hamblen Primary Care and Oliver Springs Family Physicians, among others.

Walters also wanted to take the opportunity to respond to concerns about visiting the hospital, especially in case of emergencies.

“We have protocols in place, and are paying even more attention to cleanliness than we ever have, and the emergency room is still the safest place to be if anyone is having a life-threatening circumstance,” she said.