Phoebe Donates 50,000 Masks to Protect the Community

Staff Report From Albany CEO

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

In support of an effort to ensure people in Albany are wearing masks to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus, Phoebe is donating at least 50,000 masks for public distribution.  The goal of the Mask Up Albany Task Force is to guarantee that every resident of Dougherty County has access to a mask.  “We are grateful our city and county officials recognize the importance of encouraging people to wear masks as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are proud to do our part to help lead this effort.  We will continue to be here to meet the healthcare needs of our community as long as COVID-19 persists, but we also want to do all we can to educate the public and keep people from contracting the virus,” said Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Health System Chief Executive Officer.

The Phoebe Foundation used donations to its COVID-19 Relief Fund to purchase 100,000 high-quality, reusable cloth masks.  At least half of that supply will be distributed to the public through the Mask Up Albany campaign.  The remaining masks will be used at Phoebe facilities to protect patients and visitors throughout the duration of the pandemic.  “We have received tremendous support from our community throughout our COVID-19 response, including generous donations to our relief fund, and this is one more way we can give back.  Distributing masks to protect our community is a wonderful use for those donations,” said Carolyn Higgins, Phoebe Foundation President and Chief Fundraising Officer.  Phoebe has also given more than 7,600 masks produced by Phoebe workers and volunteers to first responders and community organizations in need.

Wednesday, masks donated by Phoebe were distributed at Sherwood Baptist Church’s Hope Center.  Other distribution sites this week include the Salvation Army and the Albany Area YMCA.  Multiple churches have already handed out masks to their parishioners and other members of the community.  “The CDC recommends the use of face coverings, especially in places like Albany that have experienced significant community-based transmission of coronavirus.  We know the virus can spread easily among people who are in close proximity, even if they are just talking to each other.  If everyone wears a mask around others, it dramatically reduces the chances of transmission by asymptomatic individuals who have the virus,” said Steven Kitchen, MD, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer.

The Mask Up Albany Task Force, chaired by Albany City Manager Sharon Subadan, is made up of Albany and Dougherty County officials, business and church leaders, representatives from non-profit organizations and community volunteers.  In addition to working with churches throughout the community, the task force is also coordinating distribution to the SOWEGA Council on Aging, nursing homes, funeral homes and retail stores.