A frequent refrain we hear during this unprecedented time of sheltering in place and social distancing is “we’re all in this together.” It’s become something of a rallying cry and a reminder that everyone is facing the same challenges in adapting to this new reality that is the COVID-19 pandemic.
As in difficult times of the past, stories of everyday heroics are shining through the often grim news reports. We’ve seen people and businesses going out of their way to help those on the front lines through financial donations, supplies, or hands-on volunteering.
The construction sector, like many industries, has been hit hard by the pandemic. Yet even in these challenging times, construction businesses are stepping up with donations and volunteer efforts to lend a much-needed hand.
Here are just a few of the many ways construction companies are giving back to their communities:
Thousands of N95 Masks Donated to Front-Line Construction Workers
One of many key safety items in critically short supply are N95 masks.The masks are harder to come by as the pandemic progresses. In somes cases, leaving some hospital staff to go without them.
That didn’t sit right with Cleveland Construction, who answered a call put out by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, urging companies to donate unneeded face shields or masks. The company checked its supply of masks and discovered it had some extras on hand.
The big thing was trying to get it to the hospitals appropriately. We reached out to the executive directors and found a way to meet them.– Shawn Zbasnik
“We immediately grabbed those and reached out to Lake Health to find out how to get those to them as quickly as possible,” Cleveland Construction Director of Marketing Shawn Zbasnik told The News-Herald. “The big thing was trying to get it to the hospitals appropriately. We reached out to the executive directors and found a way to meet them at their executive offices in Tripoint Medical Center.”
In all, the company donated 320 N95 masks to Willoughby, Ohio-based medical center Lake Health, which were put to use immediately.
“We would love to have a lot more but a lot were already on the job site. The extra that we had we were grateful that we were able to give them and to give them quickly,” Zbasnik said.
Syracuse, N.Y.-based construction company The Hayner Hoyt Corporation stepped up with a donation of 1,200 masks to St. Joseph’s Health, and the company’s president urged others to do the same.
“I encourage other construction businesses and construction supply companies to see if they have any PPE (personal protective equipment) that they can give to our healthcare providers during this critical time,” Jeremy Thurston, president of Hayner Hoyt, told Syracuse.com.
Other companies followed suit. Boston-based Suffolk Construction donated more than 1,250 N95 masks to Boston hospital network Mass General Brigham. The company told ENR it had also reached out to other construction firms asking them to do the same.
Exeter, Pa.-based Kuharchik Construction dug deep into its supply reserves, emptying nearly its entire inventory of N95 masks, more than 1,000 in all, along with 100 3M 8511 respirators. The stash of supplies was donated to emergency workers, nursing homes, and healthcare facilities, according to ENR.
Construction Crew Members Lend a Helping Hand
Not all donations have been medical supplies, though. Some companies have lent their trade skills to assist.
The sudden impact of coronavirus has overwhelmed our nation’s hospitals, which are now contending with unprecedented numbers of patients. As a result, hospitals are being forced to get creative with how they triage care, even looking outside of their walls as rooms and beds fill to capacity.
Birmingham, Ala.-based construction company Robins & Morton erected a series of tents outside Pompano Beach, Florida-based Broward Health North. The temporary setup, complete with WiFi, is being used by the hospital as an external testing and triage site.
The company was also instrumental in helping Baptist Health South Florida’s Baptist Hospital of Miami Hope Tower rapidly complete its construction to get each floor ready for patients. So far, the hospital has been able to open 42 new critical care rooms, 42 medical/surgical rooms, and 12 isolation rooms. Construction is underway on other floors of the tower, which when finished will provide room for approximately 137 patients more.
Helping the Most Vulnerable Communities
The coronavirus might not discriminate, but the impact can be disproportionately felt by vulnerable communities. Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program needed to address the problem of how to shelter in place if you don’t have a home. They came up with the idea for a tent setup to offer homeless Bostonians a safe place to quarantine.
The makeshift quarantine center, located near a local homeless shelter, consists of two tents. One is for quarantined patients, able to hold up to 20 people who may not be showing symptoms but have been exposed to someone with the virus. The second tent holds 16 people and is designed for people who have symptoms and must remain isolated.
These folks are on the front lines. Wherever we can be helpful we want to be helpful.– Suffolk Construction spokesman
The tents have heat, electricity, and a sophisticated air ventilation system to curb the spread of the virus. The temporary facility, which took a little over three days to complete, has bathrooms, showers and hand-washing stations. It all came together thanks once again to Suffolk Construction, who sent 25 crew members to erect the tents and infrastructure, according to WBUR Boston’s NPR news station.
“These folks are on the front lines. Wherever we can be helpful we want to be helpful,” a Suffolk spokesman told WBUR.
If you know of any other construction companies that are giving back to their communities, please share their stories with us in the comments section below.