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Kentucky Businesses Step Up To Aid Frontlines Of Coronavirus Pandemic


  Some businesses in Kentucky are coming to the aid of the medical community as it works to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

The coronavirus has led to shortages of face masks, latex gloves, hand sanitizer, hydrogen peroxide, medical grade thermometers, and other products. 

Ashli Watts, president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, says many manufacturers use those products in their daily operations, so they’re being asked to donate supplies.

"Last week, Toyota announced they were going on a couple of week's paid leave for their employees to deal with the crisis and had many of these respirator masks they were not going to use, just because they were not going to be operating," explained Watts.

Watts says Toyota donated more than 2,000 face masks to health care providers.  Also, Owensboro Grain has donated Glycerin, which distilleries are using to make hand sanitizer. 

Other manufacturers are retooling their operations to produce supplies that are in high demand, including Bowling Green-based Fruit of the Loom, which has announced it will convert production to create protective masks.

"During this unprecedented time, it is more important than ever that we all find ways to support one another," read a statement on the company's Facebook page.

Some hospitals have postponed elective surgeries to meet the rising demand for COVID-19 care and to conserve resources.  Elective procedures are defined as those that are necessary but can be delayed for 30 days without significant risk or harm to the patient.  Hardin Memorial Health in Elizabethtown is among hospitals suspending elective surgeries and screening diagnostics.

“We are taking this step to protect our patients while working to conserve supplies, equipment and clinical staff to care for the most urgent and time-sensitive patient needs,” said John Godfrey, M.D., HMH Vice President and Chief Medical Officer.

TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital in Bowling Green is also postponing elective procedures, and while it  has the supplies and equipment needed at this time, a statement from the health system said it is working to secure more products.

"To help ensure our caregivers and patients continue to have enough supplies and equipment, we are implementing steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to conserve PPE," said Andria McGregor, Marketing and Communications Specialist for TriStar Health. "We continue to plan by accessing the resources, support and best practices across HCA Healthcare to help ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the communities we serve as the situation continues to evolve."

Med Center Health, which operates several hospitals in south central Kentucky, says it also has adequate supplies currently and is working to secure more.

"Having complied with Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s Executive Order 2020-215 to eliminate elective surgeries certainly increases our current and future supply of Personal Protective Equipment used by our staff in accordance with CDC guidelines," said Dennis Chaney, Executive Director of Ancillary Services.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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