La Red gets personal protective equipment donation

Angel Flight East pilot Wilmer “Wil” Esbenshade, center, speaks with La Red Health Center outreach personnel Monica Sanchez and Pedro Garcia after landing at the Delaware Coastal Airport Friday morning with a delivery of free personal protective equipment – faceshields and facemasks – for use by La Red. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

GEORGETOWN – Sussex County-based La Red Health Center Inc. got a shot in the arm Friday morning – a mercy flight of personal protective equipment to help in its continuous mission to serve clients during COVID-19.

Shortly after 11 a.m., a Skylane 182 Cessna, owned and piloted by Wilmer Esbenshade and co-piloted by Tim Weaver, touched down at the Delaware Coastal Airport with an Angel Flight East cargo of 400 face shields and 1,000 face masks, all donated to La Red.

“Angel Flight East … it’s a group of pilots, and they volunteer their own planes, their time,” said Kevin Loftus, La Red’s director of development, marketing and communications.

“They contacted us a couple days ago and said, ‘Hey, we like what you are doing on the front lines down there in Georgetown. We want to support the effort. We got a shipment from a donor of PPE.’ ”

“I said, ‘I can use whatever you have,’ ” said Mr. Loftus.

Mr. Esbenshade said delivering supplies is a welcome addition to Angel Flight East’s mission.

“Normally, we are transporting patients for follow-up treatments, for cancer and so forth because Philadelphia, having a lot of specialty hospitals, a lot come into there,” he said, noting that Angel Flight East and other Angel Flight chapter programs across the nation are totally voluntary.

“It’s my plane. You volunteer your time, your plane and all expenses.”

Earlier this week, Angel Flight East sent out a request for missions to deliver medical supplies. The flight to Georgetown was one of six Angel Flight missions to different destinations, including New York and New Jersey.

“The pilots donate their time, the plane, fuel. They pay for the flight,” said Mr. Loftus. “It’s a tremendous service.”

Monica Sanchez and Pedro Garcia, eight-year La Red employees who are part of the health care system’s outreach team, were on hand for the delivery.

“It means a lot. The community needs help, and they need to go back to see the doctors,” said Ms. Sanchez. “We need to protect them, their family, and we need to protect also the employees. So, it’s a big, big help for us.”

Mr. Garcia agreed.

“We work together for the community and try to help and protect ourselves and the people,” he said.

As an essential business, La Red has remained open during the coronavirus pandemic, but transformed greatly to telemedicine to reduce personal contact.

“We’ve been open since this started. We never closed, with the exception of the Seaford site we closed for two weeks because we put everybody who worked there in isolation because some people tested positive,” said Mr. Loftus. “La Red has been open since this all started. We’re kind of shifting away from telemedicine back to the regular in-patients as we can, safely. So, we need all the supplies we can get.”

The 400 face shields will come into play, particularly in La Red’s dental program.

“The shield protects (medical) people from getting it. So, it could be very beneficial to our providers, especially our dental providers when they start to open up the practice,” said Mr. Loftus. “The dental operation has been for emergency and emergency only. But we want to get back to bringing in people because there is such a tremendous need for dental services in Sussex County.”

La Red has six locations in Sussex County. Its main hub is in Georgetown, along with Seaford, Milford, CHEER senior centers in Long Neck and Ocean View (both remain closed at this time) and Sussex Technical High School’s wellness center.

“We’re just trying to open up and bring in our patients as safely as we can. We do look to transition to more in-patient visits as we can safely,” said Mr. Loftus. “And part of that is making sure we have enough PPE supplies on hand for patients and staff. So, that’s why this donation is very big for us.”

Semiretired from the cabinet manufacturing business, Mr. Esbenshade has more time for Angel Flight, whose chapters nationwide have assisted many patients and also helped with evacuation during wildfires and hurricanes.

“This is just neat to be able to do something for humanity,” he said.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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