0

Money from Phoebe makes its way to Moore, Okla.

Phoebe Sumter Emergency Department Nurse Manager Krista Barfield signs a banner that will be sent to Oklahoma’s Moore Medical Center employees affected by a recent tornado. Phoebe Putney Health System employees helped raised funds that recently went toward the hospital’s relief efforts. (File photo)

Phoebe Sumter Emergency Department Nurse Manager Krista Barfield signs a banner that will be sent to Oklahoma’s Moore Medical Center employees affected by a recent tornado. Phoebe Putney Health System employees helped raised funds that recently went toward the hospital’s relief efforts. (File photo)

ALBANY — A recent fundraising drive by the employees at Phoebe Putney Health System has recently had a hand in bringing in more money for the relief efforts ongoing after a tornado struck Oklahoma earlier this year.

Officials with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital say that more than $26,000 has been sent to Moore, Okla., to aid relief efforts at its tornado-ravaged medical center.

The health system’s employees raised approximately $13,000 through donations to the Moore Medical Center fundraiser this summer via a drive during which employees were permitted to wear jeans to work in exchange for a donation every Friday from June 14 through July 26. The other $13,000, officials at Phoebe said, was a dollar-for-dollar match from VHA, Inc., a national health care alliance for nonprofit hospitals that pledged to match any hospital’s donation for Moore Medical Center.

Moore Medical was devastated by an F-5 tornado on May 20, leaving a community without its primary health care provider — similar to the situation faced in Southwest Georgia after a 2007 tornado made a direct hit on the hospital then known as Sumter Regional Hospital in Americus, which suffered enough damage for it to ultimately be demolished.

Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, which opened in 2011 as a permanent replacement for Sumter Regional, stepped up to help the devastated hospital in Oklahoma by donating some initial funds and sending messages of support — resulting in the health system adopting Moore Medical Center as the beneficiary of a summer fundraiser.

“Our employees are very active in the communities we serve,” said Lauren Ray, director of the Phoebe Foundation. “The Moore, Okla., fundraiser was specifically for a community outside of our service area and was a way to thank the many other communities and health care employees who came to our aid during times of natural disasters. As fellow health care providers, we know these funds may be that extra boost someone needs to be able to continue giving care to the Moore, Oklahoma, community.”

The tornado that hit Moore unleashed 200-mile-per-hour winds and killed more than 20 people. In the days immediately following the storm, the initial set of funds raised was sent from Phoebe Sumter along with a signed banner.

“Looking at the pictures and coverage, it looked very similar to how our area looked but probably much worse,” said Marcus Johnson, marketing and public relations official at Phoebe Sumter, in May. “The hospital damage looked eerily similar to how our hospital looked, right down to the cars being mashed in the parking lot.

“We received so much support from people all across the state, the nation and even the world, especially from the hospital and medical community. As a result, anytime another storm hits and a hospital is damaged, we want to help them just like so many people helped us in 2007.”