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The last several weeks have been exceptionally hard on Community Medical Centers staff as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the Central Valley.

At one point last week, over 200 employees either had the virus or were in precautionary self-isolation. That number is now down to 116 but the demands on front line workers remains high.

So, a $500,000 donation to the hospital’s employee assistance fund came at just the right time, said Katie Zenovich, senior VP for development for the hospital system.

“We’re finding that if we help pay for certain things that aren’t in the budget through private support, we can get these people back to work and back to the front lines and into the hospitals where they need to be to to care for people.”Katie Zenovich, Community Medical Centers

The gift will help CMC employees meet some basic needs like paying for childcare, offsetting lost wages, and other expenses, she said.

Though the donor is anonymous, the hospital described the individual as a community oriented person that lives in the area.

The donor is also willing to match other contributions — dollar for dollar — up to $1 million, Zenovich said.

That effort has already gotten a boost from a $25,000 donation from John and Lisa Bonadelle from Bonadelle Homes. Zenovich said their gift will now turn into a $50,000 contribution to the employee fund.

Front Line Staff Help

The hospital is working hard to bring in additional donations to pay for things that help keep employees on the job.

We’re finding that if we help pay for certain things that aren’t in the budget through private support, we can get these people back to work and back to the front lines and into the hospitals where they need to be to to care for people,” Zenovich said.

In the early months of the pandemic, CMC allocated about $2 million in donated funds to assist employees in need. They were able to help about 1,400 employees before the money ran out.

A more recent $50,000 donation from Bank of America was depleted very quickly.

RN Kristin Niemi and son Kurt, received EAP funds for childcare. (Community Medical Centers)

We had eighty nine employees apply for those grants that were $1,000 (to) $2,000. We were only able to award forty five individuals,” Zenovich said.

Nurses Among Workers Most Impacted

Zenovich noted there are many more nurses than doctors working in the hospitals, making them among the top beneficiaries of the assistance program.

The second greatest need lies with their environmental services workers who keep the hospital grounds clean. “So, think about all the sanitization that we’re doing outside of the hospital. That has exponentially increased in every nook and cranny of the hospital. It’s it’s it’s a huge job,” says Zenovich.

How to Help

CMC has created a online campaign they’re calling ‘This Moment Matters’ to encourage donations to support their Employee Assistance Program. Contributions can be made via PayPal, debit, or credit card.

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