County Farm Bureaus spur medical PPE donations

By Kay Shipman

Bailey Conrady, Champaign County Farm Bureau assistant manager, followed a hunch and asked local hospitals about the need for critical personal protection equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 protection.

Their response? “Yes, we need it. Please send whatever you can send,” Conrady recalled.

That request spurred Conrady, who in turn, reached out to Christian County Farm Bureau Manager Mellisa McMillan and Farm Bureau Manager Ashley Beutke in Mason and Menard counties to help in the Springfield area. The county Farm Bureaus organized donations of PPE for local medical professionals.

By noon March 27, Conrady estimated those county Farm Bureau drives were closing in on 500 masks; Champaign County alone had generated more than 360 masks.

By early in the week, many county Farm Bureaus had begun effort to generate masks for healthcare workers and first responders, according to Jackie Jones, Illinois Farm Bureau associate field support director.

The Illinois Hospital Association has called for such critical PPE as certain types of masks, gloves and gowns and recommended donated items be given to local hospitals. A list of needed items may be found here.

Conrady, whose mother is a nurse, told about her county Farm Bureau’s efforts on an Illinois Farm Bureau video that the American Farm Bureau Federation shared across the country. Conrady received positive responses.

“We’re very grateful to everyone who has given so far, and the hospitals appreciate it,” Conrady said.

However, farmers’ health and safety remains a top priority, Jones said. “We want to encourage our farmers to be mindful of their own need for supplies to continue to be safe while cleaning out grain bins, moving grain and working with livestock,” she said. “We ask they only donate what they deem as extra or surplus.”

Jones urged farmers and county Farm Bureaus to follow Center for Disease (CDC) guidelines, such as social distancing of six feet from others, when participating in a donation drive.

To stay current with local efforts, contact your county Farm Bureau or click here for the latest on county Farm Bureau participation.

As for county Farm Bureau office operations, Jones reminded members to contact the office before dropping by and to follow CDC protocol.

In addition to county Farm Bureaus and members, Health Services for the Illinois Farm Bureau family of companies also donated PPE to McLean County area healthcare facilities, according to Devon Flammang, a registered nurse with the Illinois Farm Bureau family of companies.

Health Services recently donated 125 isolation gowns, roughly 250 N95 respirators and more than 4,000 surgical masks.

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