‘Give back to the people’

PPE provided to local EMS agencies

OBSERVER photo by Anthony Dolce Barry Wright, Westfield Memorial Hospital facilities manager, is pictured with Karen Surkala, Westfield Memorial Hospital president.

WESTFIELD — Thirteen first response groups have a new supply of personal protective equipment thanks to the Allegheny Health Network.

As the ongoing support of local EMS providers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic continues from both Allegheny Health Network and Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network is providing bulk supplies of personal protective equipment to local EMS agencies.

The effort has been ongoing for a couple of weeks, and on Tuesday, it was Westfield Memorial Hospital’s turn.

“Today we’re distributing PPE to volunteer fire departments and EMS providers throughout Chautauqua County,” said Westfield Memorial Hospital president Karen Surkala. “It’s part of Westfield Hospital’s, Allegheny Health Network’s, and Highmark’s initiative to give back to the people who served us so well during the height of the pandemic. We want to share with them supplies we have to help them take care of our patients and themselves.”

In Western New York, the distribution took place in the parking lot near the Allegheny Health Network Westfield parking lot helipad area and was the seventh stop of the distribution, with four more still to go.

Personal protective equipment is pictured ready for pick-up at Westfield Memorial Hospital.

In order to maintain social distance and parking lot congestion, the Westfield Hospital staff staggered the pickup times for the local departments.

“We have 13 companies coming through,” Surkala said. “We staggered pick up time by company, with supplies in different parking spots and we also staggered the times to come through.”

More than 90 EMS agencies across Western Pennsylvania and Western New York will receive face shields, masks and other equipment as part of this month’s supply distribution, including the 13 based in Chautauqua County.

“EMS professionals have been vital partners to our region’s hospitals and healthcare systems since day one of the pandemic. And while Covid-19 cases have begun to decrease in recent days across the region, we recognize that mitigation efforts such as PPE use will remain vital to the health of caregivers, patients and our communities for the foreseeable future,” said Robert Twaddle, Allegheny Health Network vice president of prehospital care.

The 13 companies included in the supply pickup are Chautauqua County EMS, Asheville Fire Department, Bemus Point Volunteer Fire Department, Chautauqua Fire District, Ellington Fire Department, Findley Lake Volunteer Fire Association, Fredonia Volunteer Fire Department, Lakewood Fire Department, Mayville Fire Department, Portland Ambulance, Ripley Fire District, Stanley Hose Company, Stockton Volunteer Fire Company, and the Westfield Fire Department. Surkala said that they reached out all over to make sure everyone got the supplies they needed.

Allegheny Health Network officials load PPE into a Lakewood Volunteer Fire Department truck.

“We reached out and connected with everyone in Chautauqua County,” Surkala said. “We wanted to make sure everyone could benefit from the supplies AHN has available.”


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