Published on April 06, 2020

Johnston Health receives dose of community kindness during medical supply drives

After her husband, Howard, passed away in January, Theresa Harris of Clayton was left with a closet full of medical supplies she didn’t need, including face shields, disposables gloves and gowns. A retired phlebotomist and nursing assistant, she had overseen his home hemodialysis for months before he died of an underlying heart condition.

Clayton Supply Drive Drop Off SiteLast week, she loaded up her car, and her husband’s car, too, and headed to the drop-off site for Johnston Health’s medical supplies drive. She taped a picture of Howard to the steering wheel of his car. It was from the bulletin of his memorial service.

“I know what it’s like to work under rough conditions,” she said later over the phone. “I know how important it is to have what you need to take care of patients. And I wanted to do what I could to help.”

By the end of the drive on Friday, Johnston Heath had collected items small and large, from bars of goat soap to cases of disposable gloves. They came from a wide variety of sources: dentists, optometrists, construction companies, local manufacturers, public schools. The donations were both name brand and handmade, from containers of Comet, Clorox and CaviWipes, to hand sanitizer made by a local distillery and fabric masks crafted at home on sewing machines.

In a note attached to her batch of 15 cloth masks, Diane Cuc of Clayton wrote that she was thankful for the opportunity to help during the pandemic. “Thank you for all you are doing and the sacrifices you are making. It does not go unnoticed,” she said. “You are appreciated more than you know.”

In all, the hospitals in Smithfield and Clayton have received more than 500 handmade masks, said Farrah Nguyen, a volunteer coordinator at Johnston Health, and the point person for the mask project.  “These are so special, and you can tell that they’re all sewn with love and concern,” she said. “We’re working now to set up a collection point for any others that we may continue to receive.”

Nguyen is also coordinating the many offers of meals coming in from local churches, restaurants and other businesses. “The kindnesses keep rolling in, and we’re so grateful for every single one of them. They mean so much to our staff,” she said. 

Simple Twist gift certificate donationLast week, interim CEO Tom Williams was able to say thanks in person to Nathan and Colleen Roby, owners of the Simple Twist restaurants in Smithfield and the Cleveland Community. They said a customer, who wished to show his support for local restaurants and his appreciation for health care workers, paid for $1,000 worth of meals. They will be distributed in the form of $10 gift certificates, and divided equally between Johnston EMS and Johnston Health.

Outside the hospital entrance, Williams and the couple practiced social distancing for the photo of the gift-certificate presentation. And the Roby’s came prepared, too, for the photo op. They both wore their T-shirts, with the message Smithfield Strong.

Although the drive for medical supplies has ended, the opportunity to give will continue. The Johnston Health Foundation has launched its One Community One Response campaign and is accepting in-kind and monetary donations.

Pictured above:

Clayton site drop-off: Bonnie Gray and Kamryn Foy, left and right, accept donations at the Clayton drop-off site. They’re both employees at HealthQuest who have taken on new duties since the fitness center closed.

Nathan and Colleen Roby of Simple Twist present 100 gift certificates for boxed lunches that will be shared between Johnston Health and Johnston County EMS. At center is Tom Williams, interim CEO at Johnston Health. Because the hospital is closed to visitors, the presentation took place outside the hospital, and with everyone practicing social distancing.

How You Can Help

As we take steps to prepare for and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community, many of you are looking for ways to help. Johnston Health has a variety of ways for community organizations, corporations and individuals to make donations to help protect workers and patients in our county.

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Media Contact

For media inquiries and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Suzette Rodriguez
Public Relations Specialist