Milton Doctor Raises Thousands To Supply Hospitals, Firefighters With Masks
Dr. Jamie Miller of Milton knows what it's like to lose a loved one.
Her father died one week before last Thanksgiving. Though he didn't die of COVID-19 or related complications, watching his decline was excruciating and Miller said she is still struggling now.
"I can’t help but see my father’s face on those intubated, dying people infected with COVID-19," Miller said Monday on Facebook. "It puts me right back in his hospital room, by his side, holding his hand."
As Albany became a global hotspot for COVID-19, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital ran through its five-month stockpile of protective equipment in a matter of weeks in February. A shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE, continues to plague many hospitals throughout the country, but as of Tuesday, April 7, Albany has the nation's worst per capita rate of death, according to The New York Times.
In Albany, so far there have been 59 COVID-19 deaths for every 100,000 people. In New York City, that number has been closer to 26 people who have died for every 100,000.
Miller made the three and a half hour drive to Albany last weekend to donate 2,000 masks to the staff at Phoebe Putney. The hospital was down to two days worth of supplies.
Dr. James Black, head of the hospital's ER, said the donation was desperately needed.
"Her work has truly been a blessing to us," Black said.
But it wasn't enough. Miller wanted to do more.
Miller launched on Friday Medical Masks for Georgia alongside her husband and three other friends of hers from Atlanta. Their goal is to provide PPE to medical and public service professionals throughout the state.
Since launching, the GoFundMe account has raised more than $14,000.
Miller said the donations are a testament to the spirit of community around the state.
"It makes me have hope that we're gonna get through this craziness together," she said. "We'll be stronger for it and realize that we are much more resourceful as Georgians and Americans than we think we are."
IN OTHER NEWS:
- Theater Owner Says 'Breaks Whole Heart' To Cancel Production
- Georgia's Music Teachers In Jeopardy Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak
- Georgia Millennial Running For Congress: 'My Mom Was Laid Off This Week'
With long hours and dwindling supplies, the contribution lifted the spirits of the exhausted hospital staff.
"Not only were they grateful for the material object of the mask," Miller said. "They were grateful to know that people care about them and people are thinking about them."
Doctors, nurses and hospitals aren’t the only ones on the front lines. Firefighters and emergency personnel also were in need of PPE.
Milton Deputy Fire Chief Matt Marietta said Miller's contributions gave hope to the crew. They had orders out for weeks with their suppliers trying to get new masks.
"This kind of support from the community coming together is tremendous," Marietta said. "This is the kind of stuff that keeps folks on the front lines going."
The long hours of work put in by her peers have reaffirmed her faith in and concern for the medical community.
"It scares me for them," she said. "It angers me somewhat that we don't necessarily have what we need to protect them."
As donations continue to come in, Miller said her next step is to continue reaching out to hospitals across the state to see what their needs are and continue to contribute masks. For now, her main focus is still on Albany, as the city continues to be a global hotspot.
As of noon Tuesday, Dougherty County had 939 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those cases, 52 have died. Over the last 24 hours, Phoebe received 266 test results throughout the health system, the hospital said in a news release. That number includes 104 positive results and 162 negatives, as well as four additional deaths of positive COVID-19 patients.