Operation COVID-19 Defense Donates to Greenport Hospital

From left, Paul J. Connor III, Chief Administrative Officer, SBELIH; Bob Mills, Vice President, Wm. J. Mills & Co.; Rich Vandenburgh, Co-Founder, Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. and President, Greenport Village BID; Jamie Mills, MFC President, Wm. J. Mills & Co.; Bob Gammon, Co-Owner, Woodside Orchards and Co-Lead Advisor, Southold/Greenport Robotics Team; Paul J. Romanelli, Chairman, ELIH Foundation Board of Directors and President, Suffolk Security Systems. Courtesy Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital

The organizers of Operation COVID-19 Defense, a fund that raised money to make 8,000 face shields for healthcare workers on the East End, donated $25,000 in additional proceeds to Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital earlier this month.

When the novel coronavirus broke out in mid-March, there was a scramble for personal protective equipment, even at hospitals. Two North Fork business owners teamed up to help fill a void while their own businesses shut down during the pandemic.

Richard Vandenburgh and John Leigey, co-founders of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, and Jamie, Bob, and William Mills of William J. Mills & Co., also in Greenport, developed a plan to make face shields for hospitals, fire departments and ambulance agencies on the East End. With help from Mark Miller, former owner of Miller Environmental and Bob Gammon, the co-owner of Woodside Orchards in Jamesport and an advisor for the Southold/Greenport robotics team, Operation COVID-19 Defense Fund was created in April. A GoFundMe page helped raise money to get the initiative started.

They raised $28,000 in three days, enough to fund approximately 5,000 units. The organizers ended up making 8,050 face shields that went to healthcare and other essential workers. With donations from 280 people, they raised more than $47,000.

There was $25,000 left over, which was donated to the hospital. The hospital received 800 face shields this spring.

An example of the face masks. Courtesy Richard Vandenburgh

The funds donated will be used to support the hospital’s infection prevention efforts, including additional COVID-19 testing equipment and ultraviolet cleaning equipment. The hospital is planning to purchase the Cepheid GeneXpert 4 Diagnostic System, a testing system with four chambers that will offer a 45-minute result. The Ultraviolet (UV) Cleaning Robot, a portable sanitizing system, can sanitize in 45 minutes, versus two hours of manpower.

“We are so grateful for our community’s extraordinary efforts to help us sustain our hospital’s mission to serve the North Fork and Shelter Island,” Paul J. Romanelli, chairman of the ELIH Foundation Board, said. “To the Brewery, the Mills family, Mr. Miller, Mr. Gammon, and the donors who have generously supported this initiative: thank you for standing with us.”

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