As a pharmaceutical sales representative with more than two decades in the industry, Meg Geisewite has spent a lot of time in hospitals and doctors’ offices over the years.
Through that time, the Newark resident developed a great respect for the healthcare workers and their service to others. So when the COVID-19 crisis hit, Geisewite knew she wanted to step up in a special way to help support those on the frontlines and risking their own lives every day battling the pandemic.
Geisewite launched Feeding Front Line Healthcare Givers, a Go Fund Me Page that has already raised $1,400, every dollar of which is being donated to help feed emergency department healthcare workers in hospitals throughout Delaware.
“Our healthcare workers are risking their lives and their families lives to protect and serve us during this crisis,” says Geisewite. “I have worked in healthcare for over 25 years. I know how much food is appreciated by those who work long hours to heal and protect our lives.”
Geisewite said she felt ‘so helpless’ knowing how many hours hospital staff put in and how hard they work. “At Wilmington Hospital they’re all pulling 12-hour shifts, and they’re working six to seven days a week. So, I thought why can’t we show them we stand by them and greatly appreciate what they are doing for us by sending in food?”
The effort initially began as a chain text to a group of friends. The idea gained momentum, with several friends wanting to share the idea on social media and Feeding Front Line Healthcare Givers on Go Fund Me was born.
“I thought we would just send in breakfast once to ChristianaCare‘s Emergency Department (ED), but then it grew in a matter of hours to realizing we can feed many more times,” she says.
Now Geisewite and her crew are looking to feed as many healthcare workers in the state of Delaware that their funds will allow. They have been providing food for two of ChristianaCare’s testing sites in Wilmington and Newark, Wilmington Hospital, and she’s reached out to virtually every hospital in the state, including Beebe Healthcare and others downstate.
Part of Geisewite’s strategy is also trying to support local restaurants hit hard by the mandatory shut down. But when she’s approached some restaurants to purchase food, some have refused the payment and donated meals to the effort.
“Grotto’s Pizza picked up the entire tab for the pizza for ChristianaCare’s testing site crew in Wilmington,” said Geisewite. Newark’s Deli and Bagels gave Geisewite a discount for the breakfast they had delivered to ChristianaCare’s Newark testing site. And Grotto’s of Middletown also helped with feeding Christiana’s Middletown ED last week.
Geisewite has leveraged personal relationships at the local hospitals to coordinate logistics, identifying which departments need food and who can actually receive meals that come from an outside source.
And she has noted the food delivery guidelines for each healthcare facility. “For example, Christiana’s Emergency Department is not allowed to have any food delivered from the outside. So I called Au Bon Pain within the hospital and they delivered them breakfast within the hospital. Middletown’s ED does not have a cafeteria and therefore outside delivery is accepted.
“When this virus peaks, many of these ED’s will not have time to stop to order food or cook food, so this is where we will step in to help,” said Geisewite.
Word of Geisewite’s efforts has gotten around, and more requests are coming in. In the first week, she estimates she fed close to 200 healthcare workers. By the end of this weekend, they expect to have treated 300 to breakfast, lunch or dinner.
ChristianaCare greatly appreciates the extraordinary generosity of so many members of the community. ChristianaCare president and CEO Janice E. Nevin said their business and education community partners and individual donors have been extraordinary. “I am deeply grateful and feel honored to be part of such an amazing community. We are in this together,” she said.
Individuals can also visit ChristianaCare’s COVID-19 Caregiver Support page to make donate funds, supplies or meals. However, the meals tab has a field for “company name,” and it’s not entirely clear how contributions toward meals would be arranged.
Geisewite’s initiative allows people to contribute individually — as little or as much as they would like while also knowing that meals will continue as long as the fundraiser grows.
“My goal is to continue to grow this number of healthcare workers and healthcare facilities until this pandemic is over.”