To lend a helping hand: Local businesses' COVID-19 relief efforts

Monday, April 27, 2020

The following information is summarized from stories found in the Southeast Missourian newspaper.

Schaefer's Electrical Enclosures produces intubation shields for hospitals

Schafer's Electric Enclosures has produced an intubation shield for hospital workers.

The shield is designed to protect health care professionals from possible exposure to the virus from patients.

The idea for a medical enclosure came after Cliff Brooks, chief financial officer for the company, read a Facebook post from a friend in health care. "Two hours after seeing the Facebook post," Brooks told the Southeast Missourian, "we had an idea for a prototype."

So far, two prototypes have been made. Saint Francis Healthcare and SoutheastHEALTH have been approached with the prototypes, and a hospital in the Chicago area is now using the product.

Realtors partner to feed health care workers

Realtors Chelsea Dillick and Christina Essner spearheaded an effort to support local restaurants while providing meals for front-line health care workers.

Their efforts began in January with what they call Think SEMO, a platform to share events in the area. But now, Think SEMO is raising money through its GoFundMe page called Feed the Front Lines.

At the time of publication, ThinkSEMO has raised nearly $1,500 and purchased meals for health care workers at Southeast Hospital and Saint Francis Medical Center.

Schnucks, customers partner to provide COVID-19 relief

St. Louis-based grocery chain Schnucks implemented its "Round Up at the Register" campaign in April, a way customers can donate to the United Way to support those hardest hit due to COVID-19.

Funds raised will stay in the communities in which they are donated.

The company, which has a location in Cape Girardeau, announced its own donation of $605,000 to support relief and recovery efforts.

The program was scheduled to end April 19.

TJ's Burgers, Wings & Pizza addS grocery delivery service

When restaurants were ordered to close their dining areas last month, Tim Stearns at TJ's Burgers, Wings and Pizza in Fruitland had a choice. He could either lay off some of his employees or try to find a way to keep them working as much as he could.

Like other dining establishments in the area, he and some of his staff have continued to provide takeout and curb service meals, but he needed to find more work. So TJ's added a grocery delivery service.

TJ's started the delivery service by posting a list of groceries on the restaurant's Facebook page and inviting people within a 10-mile radius to call in their orders for grocery deliveries made Fridays and Mondays.

Jackson respiratory therapist travels to New York to help in COVID-19 pandemic

Respiratory therapist Amber Morgan recently traveled to New York City as a medical volunteer to assist in the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York is one of the hardest hit areas of the country for COVID-19.

A Jackson resident, Morgan agreed to a 21-day assignment with daily 12-hour shifts after which she will have an opportunity to continue or return home.

"The good Lord's got me -- I feel protected," Morgan told Southeast Missourian reporter Nicolette Baker. "I don't really feel like I'm risking my life because it's like he's bubble wrapping me."

Southeast Missouri State produces PPE for Southeast Hospital

A team of engineers at Southeast Missouri State University recently produced 100 face shields using 3D printers. The shields were donated to SoutheastHEALTH.

In a post on the Southeast Missouri State University Facebook page, the health system thanked Brad Deken, chairman and professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology at Southeast, and his team for producing the shields.

More shields were expected to be produced at the university and delivered to other health care providers.

Anheuser-Busch produces hand sanitizer

In response to COVID-19, Anheuser-Busch has started producing hand sanitizer.

The brewer shared via social media on March 21: "We have a long history of supporting our communities and employees -- this time is no different.

The company partnered with the Red Cross to distribute the products.

Jones Drug Store, other businesses produce hand sanitizer

Jones Drug Store in uptown Jackson has started producing hand sanitizer as the product is now in high demand due to the coronavirus.

With support from Joe Hobbs at Barrel 131 in Jackson of grain alcohol, Jones Drug Store is able to produce the product. Food and Drug Administration guidance recommends isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol of 94.9% strength or higher.

Pharmacist Brian Thompson told the Southeast Missourian on April 11 that Jones Drug Store had compounded more than 100 gallons of the product in a few weeks.

Other companies such as The Natural Way Soaps and Herbal Products have also produced the product.

Newspaper, hospitals join together to make health information free

The Southeast Missourian made its COVID-19 health news free to all readers beginning in March, a service made possible thanks to support from SoutheastHEALTH and Saint Francis Healthcare.

"Like so many businesses, our finances have been hit hard by the coronavirus," said Jon K. Rust, publisher of the Southeast Missourian. "But we believe it critical that the whole community has reliable information-- including health safety information -- during the crisis. So, although it actually hurts our business, we made most of our COVID-19 coverage free. Special thanks go to Saint Francis and SoutheastHEALTH for sponsoring a portion of the costs."

According to Rust, it is important that those who can subscribe to the newspaper, do.

"We know that many of our friends and neighbors are hurting right now. And for some, a subscription to the Southeast Missourian just isn't an option. We will continue our mission to help our communities thrive without extra support for as long as we can, making vital health news free. But for those who are able to subscribe, we need you."

To subscribe to the Southeast Missourian, which includes digital access to B Magazine stories, visit

The Southeast Missourian also kicked off a fundraising campaign in April to support news operations. Donations to the Southeast Missourian "Support Local Journalism Fund" can be made online at or by contacting assistant publisher Lucas Presson at (573) 388-3649.