Leah Carter, a mom of four from New Haven, wants to be on the front line caring for COVID-19 patients, but her skills as a registered nurse are being utilized at home as she cares for her son, Elliot, who born with two very rare and severe medical conditions known as mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) and food protein induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES).
While she can’t be at the hospital, Carter and her husband, Dan, found a way to help the nurses who are tirelessly caring for patients during this pandemic through their New Haven-based Mexican restaurant, Carter’s Cantina. For every five N95 masks customers brings to Carter’s Cantina, they receive $10 off their order.
This “dine and donate” program will continue as long as there is a need, Carter says. The restaurant is also accepting other medical supplies including gloves, surgical masks, booties, hairnets and disposable gowns.
A cause that hits home
“Being a nurse myself, obviously I still have a lot of friends who are nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and doctors. We’re a very tight knit community when it comes to all of those things that we just kind of band together in general,” Carter says.
“So, just listening to the news and the reports of what they are going through on the front line and really the lack of supplies that they’ve been given as far as personal protection equipment — especially the N95 masks — was horrifying.”
She continues, “And, with being friends with a lot of nurses, I could see a ton of posts on Facebook and just talking privately with some of my former colleagues who were saying, ‘This is not exaggerating. This is real life. I’m working on a COVID unit designated specifically for COVID patients and I’m not protected.'”
It’s a huge problem, she says. In fact, these masks are essential for each nurse’s safety as they protect the wearer from airborne particles and liquid contamination, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These masks, Carter notes, filter our 95% of the COVID-19 particles, which are actually small enough to go through regular surgical masks.
So why not donate them to those who are in the midst of the COVID-19 battle here in metro Detroit?
“They are out there, unprotected, caring for these patients exposed,” Carter says. It’s integral for them to have supplies to keep them – and their families – safe.
Getting supplies in hand
At the time this post was published, the restaurant collected 50 N95 masks, in addition to hundreds of surgical masks that Carter was able to donate to Beaumont’s nurse anesthetist team, Beaumont’s ICU, Henry Ford Health System’s ICU and St. Joseph Mercy Health System.
“It’s immediate turnaround right now – getting to the hands of the nurses who are out there,” she says.
Cortney Kempisty, a nurse in the intensive care unit, received one of Carter’s first care packages. The mom of two, who is caring for COVID-19 patients at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, says the supplies are much-needed and appreciated.
“We’re just so grateful for the supplies,” Kempisty says. “The world is going through a pandemic right now that was unforeseen and that we weren’t ready to fight. And it’s really rattled all of us and changed our daily lives.
“Our health care workers are working with minimal supplies, and we’re doing the best that we can right now. To have more supplies to keep us safe so that we can keep working and taking care of everybody else just means the world.”
If you’re interested in donating N95 masks and other medical supplies, visit Carter’s Cantina online or call 586-646-1160.