Michelle Gruber, right, accepts a meal delivery for Winona Health staff from Pleasant Valley Church.

Donations strengthen health care




While walking through Winona Health, inspirational quotes in calligraphy can now be seen. The quotes are meant to provide motivation and comfort for all those who enter the space.

Along with the quotes, medical supplies, meals and other items have been donated to Winona Health during the pandemic.

“It’s been cool to see everybody from a single person who has the talent and capacity to sew masks up to the biggest organizations in the community provide materials or meals, and that support has meant so much,” Winona Health Director of Provider and Community Relations Dani Holtzclaw said. “It’s been awe-inspiring during this time of struggle to see people give their time and talents to staff and the hospital.”

Community members have donated gift cards, lunches, coffees, ice cream and Girl Scout cookies for staff members. Community members have also made financial donations that have supplemented the hospital’s operations and helped support hospital employees. Winona Health has received notes from school children as well, in addition to the inspirational quotes in calligraphy.

Winona Health received a donation of meals from a local car dealership. The spaghetti dinners were made by a local restaurant, and they were enjoyed by support staff members at Winona Health.

Co-owner of Sugar Loaf Ford Lincoln and Chrysler Winona Michael Puetz said he wished to support local businesses and express his gratitude for those who are serving community members at this time, such as Winona Health staff members, through making the donation of meals. “These people [are] working longer hours and working harder than ever before,” Puetz said. “To me, it’s a little chance to say, ‘Thank you. Take a breath. We appreciate all you do. We want you to know how much you mean to us’ … I’m very concerned about small businesses, like restaurants, that are having the toughest time. Even though it’s not much, it’s something.”

Puetz said he aims to continue keeping an eye out for those in need and ways to help them.

Community members have also donated N95 respirators that they had access to through their workplace or had at home for home projects. They have also sewn and donated homemade masks. Winona State University donated 2,300 N95 respirators and 1,380 masks, among other items.

Winona Health has received safety goggles, gloves, patient gowns and beds as well. Saint Mary’s University (SMU) donated 24,750 pairs of gloves, in addition to other supplies. Minnesota State College Southeast loaned 10 hospital beds and eight nightstands, among other items.

Physical items such as safety goggles are worn and used by staff members. Long-term care facility residents have used iPads to stay in touch with their loved ones. Holtzclaw noted that employees have appreciated being able to enjoy warm meals and sweet treats when they have a chance to take a brief break.

SMU’s science department, facilities department and wellness center all contributed supplies to the university’s donation for Winona Health. A science department faculty member went through the science labs and retrieved items, for instance, SMU Chair of the Pandemic Assessment and Coordinating Team Ann Merchlewitz said. The supplies were ultimately gathered in one area and boxed up to go to Winona Health.

Higher education institutions were asked by Governor Tim Walz to inventory their supplies, and once that process was complete at SMU, Merchlewitz explained, the university wished to donate items locally to Winona Health. “They’re on the front lines in this battle,” Merchlewitz shared. “We have students who are still here, our local students, who are receiving, perhaps, the benefit of care there, and certainly there are faculty and staff who are members of this community and appreciate all Winona Health is doing on the front lines. So it made sense for us as a community member to make sure those items went to help people who are helping our community.”

Holtzclaw said community members have given thoughtfully and made donations for staff members who are on the front lines and those who are behind the scenes, such as those in the facilities department. Winona Health is extremely grateful for all the donations it has received, she shared.

Community members may find more information about how to donate to Winona Health at https://www.winonahealth.org/.


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