Sundays aren’t typically considered a heavy day for deliveries at York Hospital; however, last Sunday, March 21, was anything but typical. The day prior, York Hospital CMO & Interim CEO, Dr. Jennifer Cutts, received a quick text from Board Member, Ann Lee Hussey. “Will someone be available later this weekend? The Rotary Club would like to deliver 30,000 masks to the hospital.” Following an enthusiastic “Absolutely!”, plans were solidified with Purchasing Director Paul Williamson to accept a shipment of a number of boxes from Durham – Great Bay Rotarian, Steve Kniaz. Steve delivered 30,000 masks on behalf of District 7780 Rotary Clubs, a group of 40 clubs, and over 1,500 members, located from Hampton, New Hampshire to Damariscotta, Maine.
The story behind this unmasked generosity begins with Rotarian Ann Lee Hussey. York Hospital board member and globe-traveling nurse, most months, Ann can be found vaccinating the world’s most needy communities against the polio virus. However, the pandemic has kept her away from Logan Airport and at home in South Berwick. Lucky for York Hospital, she has been spending time during the unexpected hiatus as a volunteer vaccinator for their Covid Vaccine Clinic in York, Maine. A former District 7780 Rotary Club Governor, Ann had been hearing of sizable mask donations made by Rotary Clubs all over New England, and thought that between the Covid Vaccine Clinic at St. Christopher’s Catholic Church, and York Hospital’s many sites, that the hospital might be a worthy candidate for one of these donations.
A phone call to Marguerite “Peggy” Belanger, current District 7780 Governor, sealed the deal. Peggy, a retired oncology nurse, explained the origins of the extensive delivery of hospital masks. The idea for the project, known as “The Million Mask Challenge,” was hatched by Ted Rossi, president & CEO of The Rossi Foundation, and active Rotarian, in East Hampton, CT. Last March, when masks were needed so desperately by all frontline health care workers throughout the country, he and his family foundation decided to take the initiative, and the Rotary Clubs of all six New England states, along with New York and New Jersey, assisted with the distribution. The Rotary Club’s motto, “Service Above Self,” was called to action. This “delivery tour,” the final of three between spring 2020 and 2021, saw 164,000 adult, children’s and N-95 masks provided to various health care locations in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and York, Wells, Portland and Brunswick, Maine. Additionally, Maine’s three Rotary Club districts supported many Maine-sponsored Emergency Management Systems (EMS) Covid Vaccine Clinics for first responders. Approximately $20,000 was donated to purchase iPads for data entry, registration and check-in processes, along with refrigerators required to store the vaccine.
Her appreciation evident, Dr. Cutts offered the following: “York Hospital is thrilled to be among the lucky recipients of yet another act of giving by the Rotary Club. We are indeed fortunate to have community members – and board members – who go above and beyond in their pursuit to support both our caregivers and our community. It was a wonderful surprise for a Sunday afternoon.”
For details regarding York Hospital services, including Covid-19 protocol, please visit www.yorkhospital.com. For further information, or to make a donation, please contact the Community Relations Office via phone at 207-351-2385 or email, at [email protected].