For the past seven weeks, the community has displayed its support for Excela Health employees who are on the front lines caring for those affected by COVID-19 through gifts of food, water, meals, supplies and words of encouragement. Those same Excela Health employees are showing their gratitude by supporting those on the front lines of another crisis - food insufficiency - as a result of unemployment caused by the public health crisis.
Wednesday, May 6, Excela Health Chief Executive Officer John Sphon presented the Westmoreland County Food Bank a check for $80,000. The check symbolizes out-of-pocket contributions made during a three-week fund drive that began in early April. The donation includes $15,000 from the Excela Health Medical Staff. The remaining $65,000 was contributed by Excela’s 4,700 employees and physicians who responded to an internal appeal, some writing checks, others donating online, and in the final days of the campaign that ended May 1, raising more than $500 through the loose change left in containers at the cafes in the Westmoreland County health system’s hospitals in Greensburg, Latrobe and Mount Pleasant. “Our community has been here for us,” said Sphon. “We want them to know we are here for them.”
“Health and hunger go hand in hand,” said Ron Eberhardt, who is a member of the boards of both the Westmoreland County Food Bank and the Westmoreland/Frick Hospital Foundation. “This is so gratifying to me to be part of grassroots efforts to meet basic human needs. I am proud to be associated with both organizations and witness the commitment that our community has for one another.”
Jennifer Miller, Chief Executive Officer of the Westmoreland County Food Bank, expressed the sentiments of other board members: “With our biggest obstacle right now being the unknown, Excela has helped WCFB to be more proactive than reactive. We are very grateful and overwhelmed at the outpouring of generosity and proud to call the Excela staff our partners in the fight against food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank them all for their work on the front lines taking care of all of our vulnerable neighbors and for helping us to care for them, too.”
Dr. Carol Fox, Excela Health Chief Medical Officer, further noted the significance of the funds raised. “Food insufficiency is very real in our county, and there are health conditions that require special diet considerations when meal planning. We had considered holding a food drive but this was not the time to be gathering nonperishables. Our collective dollars allow the food bank to meet the needs, whatever they may be, in the way that is most appropriate for the recipient.”
For every dollar donated, WCFB can purchase $10 worth of food. That means that the Excela employee gift translates into $800,000 of purchasing power for the food bank, and 100,000 meals for food bank clients.
Pictured: John Sphon, Excela Health Chief Executive Officer, Ron Eberhardt, board member of both the Westmoreland County Food Bank and the Westmoreland/Frick Hospital Foundation; Jennifer Miller, Chief Executive Officer, Westmoreland County Food Bank; Dr. Walid Kassir, president of the Excela Health Medical Staff, and Dr. Carol Fox, Excela Health Chief Medical Officer.