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The Gateway Initiative team partnered with two local restaurants and the Foley Police Department to provide meals to over 700 healthcare workers at South Baldwin Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, September 8th.

The Foley Police Department volunteered their time and a large portable grill for Chef Ryan Traudt of Wolf Bay Restaurant to prepare hamburgers and hotdogs at lunch. Chef Ira Gallon and co-owner Sylvia Smith of Local and Company Food + Drink provided the dinner shift. Many of these meals were also taken to several free-standing clinics in south Baldwin County, including the new Emergency Department in Gulf Shores.

"The response from our local restaurants and volunteers was overwhelming. Everyone wants to show their appreciation. When you are here and see all of the hard work and sacrifice in action, it takes you over emotionally to think of what the hospital staff has gone through," said Ed Bushaw of Gateway. Baldwin County healthcare workers said the last few months have been the toughest of any since the pandemic began. In August, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sent a task force team to help at South Baldwin Regional Medical Center. Chief Nursing Officer Margaret Roley said, "In my 30-year career, I've never seen or been through anything like this. There is a balance between feeling the need to serve our community, taking care of our patients, and exhaustion."

On top of the exhaustion and long hours, hospitals are very short-staffed, along with so many other industries. Gateway Initiative's Tyler Brunson commented, "I've never seen such emotional or physical stress, and to be sprouted by a global pandemic that contributes to a long term workforce shortage has put our tourist destination in dire straits." The South Baldwin Regional Medical Center currently has staff during lunch to provide meals for the healthcare workers, but there is no staff working the dinner or night shift. If your business or restaurant is interested in providing a weekly dinner for our healthcare heroes, please contact Tyler Brunson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Ed Bushaw (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).