Local Sparta Businesses Help Healthcare Heroes comes to the rescue

Sparta Businesses and Sparta residents help healthcare heroes. Sparta resident Melissa Prestipino has been furloughed since March 18 from her job as a licensed physical therapist at Therapeutics Unlimited of Sparta.

After hearing many stories about the healthcare workers not getting enough personal protective equipment, Prestipino decided the best use of her time was to help find ways to help.

“My Sparta friend Erin McMeen had recently graduated nursing school and had become an RN,” she said. “She was working at a local dialysis center and had reached out for a hand-sewn face mask. It was at that moment that this mission became even more personally connected.”

Prestipino formed a Facebook group.

“I knew that this was going to all be too big to get done alone, so I recruited some key players,” she said.

They named the group Sparta Helps Healthcare Heroes, then decided to start adding friends and family. They set up an Amazon Wish List, where people can make donations to meet the needs of local healthcare workers.

Integral to the effort to help local hospitals and nursing homes are volunteers Erica Hertzberg, LeeAnne Pitzer, Nicole Chiong, Kristin List, and Maria Deaquino.

“Healthcare professionals reach out through our website to put in their needed requests,” said Prestipino. “Most of the items ship directly to one of the team members homes. To avoid a pile up of supplies at any one place, the location of items gets changes weekly.”

Tom Hugaboom has been making masks as part of this initative.

“I’ve made at least 300 masks so far,” he said. “Some have been from kits provided by The Leather Zone and Stitch Adventure. I’ve also bought my own material so we could donate to the NJ Sharing Network. It’s been an assembly line at home with me sewing, my wife and mother-in-law ironing, cutting and making hundreds of goodie bags for the Sparta Helping Healthcare Heroes.”

Jen Randina of Sparta, said of the group, “You guys have really lifted up the town.”

To get involved in Sparta Helps Healthcare Heroes, e-mail [email protected], follow them on Facebook, or visit sparthelps.org.

Caring for Caregivers

Vernon resident Connie Dalton works for Hackensack Meridian Health as a hospital liaison at an acute care center.

“Right now, working in healthcare is a roller coaster, to say the least,” she said. “From hour to hour, it can range from controlled chaos to resembling a war zone in a third world country. Healthcare workers at every level are not only providing care, but thinking outside the box to maneuver around obstacles that wouldn’t normally exist. Due to restrictions on patient visitors, extreme volume of patients, and staffing challenges, we are called on to take on responsibilities that are outside of our scope of service. We juggle our job, help others with theirs, and often perform tasks that we’ve never done before.”

She says healthcare workers are some of the most selfless people.

“We run in to situations and help, instead of stepping back and letting someone else handle it,” Dalton said. “We serve as liaisons to the family and these days, we are the ones who sit with someone who is gravely ill and whose time is small. Being a healthcare professional has become more personal and therefore, more emotionally and physically draining.”

She and her team created Caring for Caregivers care kits that contain nutritious grab-and-go food items such as protein powder packets and protein bars ordered online at cost. They will also homemade face masks and handwritten notes of encouragement and appreciation.

This cause can be helped via Venmo @connie-dalton. Everything will be purchased at cost. Masks and hand written letters and cards to healthcare workers are also greatly appreciated.