At St. Charles, the effort to prepare for and respond to a local outbreak of COVID-19 extends far beyond the doctors, nurses, medical technicians and caregivers who provide food and environmental services on the front lines. It also includes pharmacists, lab workers, IT experts, administrators and even contracted vendors who specialize in a specific service that meets one of the health system’s needs.
Duane Smith is one of those vendors. For years, his West Coast Event Productions company has provided St. Charles with temporary tents, furniture, audio/visual support and special rental items needed to put on a successful event. The company has been in business in Portland for 40 years, and in Bend for 25 years, Smith said.
In fact, it was West Coast’s Bend-area manager, Kezia Steinmetz, and operations manager, Rick Jacobe, who forwarded Smith a recent email from St. Charles President and CEO Joe Sluka announcing the St. Charles Foundation’s new Hero Fund, which will provide bonus pay to frontline caregivers.
In that email, Sluka mentioned that St. Charles would donate $1 million to the fund, and that he himself would donate half his April paycheck in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.
“It was so wonderful, I must’ve read it 10 times because I was so impressed and I wanted to make sure I understood it,” Smith said. “I called my management team and I said, ‘Look at this. Isn’t this great?’ Immediately my wife Pat said, ‘We need to match that.’”
The team – which also includes sales manager DJ Smith and director of sales Mike Gargiulo – quickly agreed to give back to St. Charles half its April revenue from tents the company currently has installed across the health system. With 12 tents at nine locations, the donation penciled out to right around $10,000.
“Every day I look at all these health care providers who are risking their lives and their families’ health, and I just can’t imagine the toll it’s taking,” Smith said. “I call them angels. They’re like angels caring for all those people who really need it right now.”
Smith said he hopes West Coast’s donation inspires other companies to give whatever they can to the effort.
“This is a time when every citizen around the globe must join together and share whatever they can,” Smith wrote in a letter to St. Charles. “From hope to prayer, from personal help to financial support or to have the will to stay home to fight this (pandemic).”