Coping with the coronavirus: Morristown rallies to help hospital workers on COVID-19 front lines

DIY masks: A video posted by Morristown Medical Center shows how to make them for hospital staffers during the pandemic.
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By Linda Stamato

When local residents realized that Morristown Medical Center may come under siege from the spreading coronavirus, they organized to let hospital workers know that the community has their backs.

One grassroots effort is preparing to provide snack packages and crocs (the rubber footwear that staff easily wear out) to two shifts of emergency room employees.

As of Monday, the online campaign has generated more than $1,900 from 46 donors, in amounts from $10 to $200.

“I am so very grateful for the generosity of our neighbors. We are lucky to have the Number One rated hospital right here in Morristown, and people appreciate the services they offer and the dedicated staff particularly during this difficult time,” said the primary organizer of the NextDoor drive, who asked to be identified as Richard M.

He’s accepting contributions at this Venmo number: 973-567-0019.

“As an MMC nurse, this really makes me emotional. What an amazing community! Thank you, Rich!” a neighbor named Leila responded online.

“Please don’t forget about the staff working on the designated COVID units too, right now there are three (not including ER) and they keep adding more units as more and more patients are being admitted,” Leila said.

Franklin Corners in Morristown. Photo by Linda Stamato.

Another venture has been organized by Siobhan Cavanaugh, with support from her neighbors in the Franklin Corners community.

She has created a sheet of time slots and a list of restaurants willing to deliver food to the hospital staff.  This effort, too, will last as long as contributions come in and the need is there.

Email her here, and she will contact you with a date and time and restaurant that is providing food that week.

“The economic impacts of this crisis are significant and swift for small businesses, particularly restaurants, as they are most affected by the ‘social distancing’ protocols,” said Cavanaugh.

Future plans may include extending meals, paid for by neighbors, to nursing homes, she said.

The initiatives don’t stop there.

Webster Plumbing & Heating has donated hundreds of masks to Morristown Medical Center and Newton Medical Center.

A Morristown Facebook group is helping roughly 75 elderly Morristown residents who have had their subsidized meal programs suspended and now are facing food insecurity.

“Because we’re in this together,” wrote organizers, “it’s our duty to pick up the slack!” And so the Morristown Order Out Twice a Week Stimulus Plan is signing up restaurants in town to donate a lunch for each upcoming week.

Interested restaurants and community members are asked to contact the Morristown Housing Authority.

Morristown Medical Center welcomes donations of N95 masks or similar, along with eye protectors, other masks, gloves and gowns, and cash. Here are details about how to contribute.

The hospital even has do-it-yourself instructions for making masks for hospital staffers:

Video: DIY masks, from Morristown Medical Center:

On Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy also announced an email address where citizens can arrange donations to hospitals: PPEdonations@NJSP.org.

Linda Stamato is the Co-Director of the Center for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.  She is a Faculty Fellow there as well.  Active in the Morristown community, she serves on the trustee board of the Morristown and Morris Township Library Foundation and is a commissioner on the Morristown Parking Authority.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I agree, Linda. It is really a privilege to live here. We rented before buying the house in our neighborhood where we’ve spent the last 45 years. I’m glad to know that there are other neighborhoods in town where there’s a feeling of caring for and about one another. This is the kind of place I would like to have grown up, but next best is that our children had the blessing of growing up here. When we chose our house (or when circumstances made it easy to do so), I had no idea how nice it would be to be able to walk to town, to the train, the bus…and even to walk around the block. Our neighborhood, Franklin Corners, is home to a lot of wonderful people — and I know folks from other ‘hoods in own feel exactly the same way about their neighborhoods. And I wish I could write as succinctly as my friend and neighbor Linda Stamato! 🙂

  2. Morristown has some very savvy, smart and generous people who are putting ideas into action. Their efforts are needed, and appreciated, and will be remembered for a long time. Officials at the hospital have expressed gratitude for all the efforts that residents of Morristown are doing to keep its healthcare team members safe and healthy.

    This is a town, packed with citizens with heart. It’s a privilege to live here

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