Uniting to help others is one way to describe the massive donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks to two local medical facilities.
Freddie Figgers, an entrepreneur based on Florida, reached out to Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer of Faithful Central Bible Church and the result was Centinela and Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospitals receiving 750,000 masks and 250,000 PPE. Inglewood City Hall was also a recipient of some of the supplies.
The initial shipment arrived at MLK and Centinela Hospital on April 17, and Ulmer presented the items to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Dr. Elaine Batchlor, MLK chief executive officer.
“Thank you Bishop Ulmer; this donation means the world to us,” said Batchlor. “Our staff is on the front lines of this pandemic and are here for the community every day. They really appreciate it and love the fact that the community is here for them. This is extremely important to all of us, we need to keep our healthcare workers safe. This is what keeps them safe.”
Offering a similar perspective, Ridley-Thomas said, “What we have is a private-public partnership, a non-profit hospital that is essentially doing extraordinary work 24/7, 365 days a year. Frontline workers doing what needs to be done joined by a religious institution, Faithful Central Bible Church, giving first rate quality care.”
Ulmer was able to facilitate the donation after Figgers, founder of Figgers Communications, expressed his desire to help provide a safer working environment for hospital staff working at urban medical facilities. The staff at MLK and Centinela perfectly matched Figgers’ vision since they are critical team members in the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Also, the facilities’ patients are largely minority and that demographic is experiencing disproportionately higher infection and death rates compared to their percentage of the population.
“This donation is a result of the bigheartedness of Mr. Figgers, an African American businessman and philanthropist, who wanted to make sure his gifts would reach the inner cities of our country, and reach people in Los Angeles. It is an example of the connection between our government officials and the grassroots part of our community, and we just wanted to be a part of it,” explained Ulmer.
“The essence of this donation is an example of partnerships and relationships. Our communities are so knit together … the government, the faith community, the public and the medical community. Martin Luther King Hospital is on the front line fighting this pandemic, and Faithful Central Bible Church, as a part of this community, wanted to let them know we are supporting them and we are with them,” added Ulmer.
Describing MLK as L.A. County’s “premiere campus,” Ridley-Thomas insisted that alliances of this nature are sorely needed to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The spirit of volunteerism, the spirit of community engagement, the spirit of generosity is being displayed by philanthropy, the faith community, all of this means a lot,” noted Ridley-Thomas. “We cannot win unless we have this kind of partnership. We will not be defeated by COVID-19. We are very grateful today.”