Community aid is building behind one Murray woman’s mission to encourage hospital workers while supporting locally-owned restaurants during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Lis Jones is a Calloway County resident and hospice nurse who started providing meals for her fellow healthcare workers after learning of the nursing shortage that is affecting the Murray-Calloway County Hospital’s (MCCH) critical care unit (CCU). Although Jones is a nurse, she said she is not credentialed to work on a CCU unit, and her inability to help was upsetting.
“It was a feeling of guilt that I wasn't over there working as a staff nurse on the floor. The few times that I've had to wear PPE [personal protective equipment] and treat patients, I have found it extremely limiting and frustrating and hot and uncomfortable and scary,” Jones said. “My friends were facing terrible things.”
MCCH CEO Jerry Penner confirmed the hospital nurses have been facing “tremendous challenges” with the rising patient volumes.
“We started a new interventional cardiology program, which drove a lot of volume in that particular area that was independent of the pandemic,” Penner said. “So between that and the pandemic causing the national and statewide shortage for nursing, yeah, we were stretched pretty thin. My hat's off to the nurses, they really did a monumental job under some very tough circumstances.”
Jones said when considering ways in which she might be able to help, her southern hospitality kicked in and she decided to encourage her colleagues by providing meals in a way that also supported local families.
“So what I'm trying to do is both support restaurants, especially locally-owned restaurants, and feed the staff at the same time. I found that I had a lot of friends that wanted to support that,” Jones said. “My parents are country folk. That's how we show each other our love around here is we feed them, right? That's how we show people that we appreciate them. So it just seemed natural.”
Amy Faughn, the charge nurse for the MCCH CCU, said due to the nursing shortage, CCU nurses do not have time to visit the hospital cafeteria for lunch. Faughn said Jones often brings meals on the days her staff needs them the most.
“There have been many times that Lis [Jones] seems to have a sixth sense and picks a day that we are so busy that no one has the chance to get to the cafeteria. It is such a heartwarming and kind gesture to know that there are so many people that appreciate the work we do and the added pressure we are sometimes under during these times.”
Faughn also said she appreciates that Jones chooses locally-owned restaurants as they are struggling during this time with the restrictions.
Jones purchases prepared meals from Murray locations such as Tom’s Grill, Sirloin Stockade, and Mugsy’s Hideout Pizzeria.
Members of the community interested in donating to provide meals may do so via Venmo. The payments can be sent to the username @Lis-Jones-69980.