By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
NEW ORLEANS, La. (LBM) – The New Orleans Baptist Association and Louisiana Baptist Convention have gifted the Baptist Community Health Services in New Orleans with 560 N95 respirators, combined, and other much needed supplies as medical personnel continue their fierce battle against the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Alex Brian, business and communications director and neighborhood ministry coordinator for NOBA, told the Baptist Message the doctor, nurses and staff had been reusing masks and depleted their supply of gloves before the association found their supply in their disaster relief mud-out trailer. Brian delivered 60 N95 respirators, along with two boxes of gloves, to the BCHS clinic on Monday, March 23. Two days later, LBC Disaster Relief delivered an additional 500 N95 respirators and 250 Tibex protection suits.
BCHS operates five medical clinics (New Orleans, Chalmette and Mandeville) and is the only known federally qualified health center connected to a Southern Baptist local association of churches, according to Shawn Powers, CEO and a full-time NOBA missionary at the clinic. NOBA, with the help of the Baptist Community Ministries (a foundation set up with proceeds from the 1995 sale of the Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans) and Southern Baptists’ North American Mission Board, launched the medical ministry in 2014.
“I’ve been working with [Louisiana Baptists state Disaster Relief Coordinator] Gibbie [McMillan], as well, as one of the regional LBC DR coordinators and I was following their lead in treating this event as a disaster, utilizing our DR supplies,” Brian said. “Gibbie’s advice to build up DR supplies in advance of hurricane season is the reason we had the masks on hand in the first place.”
Powers met March 25 with LBC DR Chaplain Stan Statham, who also serves as associational mission strategist for the Baptist Associations of Southeast Louisiana, to pick up the additional N95 masks and Tibex protection suits, both of which have been in short supply due to high usage during the COVID-19 crisis.
The N95 respirators are used by DR volunteers to help in high dust operations like removing dried mud in clean-up efforts and during different phases of reconstruction such as drywall sanding, etc.
“Their supplies are truly an answer to prayer,” Powers said. “The N95 donation arrived to us during a time of urgent need.
“Daily, dozens of patients are seeking COVID-19 care at BCHS,” he continued. “The health center’s N95 mask supply was literally down to its last few when the LBC’s Disaster Relief team stepped forward and donated 500 needed masks.
“To our surprise, God has provided our needed resources from a place we never expected – our spiritual family, the Louisiana Baptist Convention,” he said. “Thank you LBC family. We love you and give thanks to God for you. Your gift is literally changing lives and providing us further opportunity to share Christ.”
Orleans Parish has the sixth-highest rate of known COVID-19 cases of any county in the nation, and is the only county among the nation’s top 10 that is not in the New York metro area, according to an analysis by The Times-Picayune and The Advocate.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported that, through Wednesday, March 26, Orleans Parish had 827 out of the 1,795 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state and 37 of the 65 reported deaths.
Brian asked for continued prayers for the medical personnel.
“They are doing brave work,” Brian said. “Pray they don’t carry this home to families. And pray for supplies as the system becomes overwhelmed.”