Winter Haven Hospital Nurse, Local Supply Stores Go Above and Beyond for Patients and Health Care Providers

May 01, 2020

Laura Matias remembers the day she was told by her manager that her patient care floor would be caring for COVID-19 patients at Winter Haven Hospital. 

“It was hard to hear,” the 20-year nursing veteran recalls. “Then I remembered that my job is a mission, that God put me here to care for those that need it.” She remembers her assistant nurse manager telling the team that every one of their patients would need them, more now than ever before. “And I told myself to be strong, to fulfill my calling, my duty.” 

Laura carries out her mission not just with patient care, but with all the hospital’s needs in mind.

In March, Laura read an email from Harbor Freight Tools titled “Help Us Help Your Hospital.” The email offered donations of Harbor Freight’s entire supply of personal protection equipment (PPE) to hospitals with a 24-hour emergency room. Laura worked with BayCare’s Materials Management team to submit a donation request, and several days later, she received notification from Harbor Freight that Winter Haven Hospital had been selected to receive two pallets full of PPE. 

“I didn’t know if I would be selected, but it didn’t cost anything to submit the request and if we got it, then I knew it would be helpful as patient care needs increased over the next several weeks.” Laura reflects when she arrived at the Auburndale Harbor Freight store to pick up the donations. 

In addition to Winter Haven Hospital, three other BayCare hospitals benefited from Harbor Freight donations: Bartow Regional Medical Center, Morton Plant North Bay Hospital and Mease Countryside Hospital.

When BayCare Materials Management crew and Bartow Regional’s Director of Operations Clint Shouppe met at the Harbor Freight Tools store in Bartow, the store manager said every store adopted one community hospital for the donations.

“Bartow Regional is our hospital, and we are happy to help out our local health care workers,” said David Knight, store manager. “Whatever PPE supplies we get, we will give to the hospital.”

On April 6, Harbor Freight’s website reported that they donated to more than 1000 hospitals across the nation. Each donation received by a BayCare hospital included nearly 100 cases of latex gloves. The Winter Haven Hospital donation included a box of face shields.

Laura has worked as a nurse in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico, in a hospital setting, a clinic setting, even providing care at a corrections institute. She gives credit to all the team members at the hospital in this fight against the coronavirus. “They are the bravest,” she said. 

“We are really thankful, really grateful for the donations.” Laura told the Harbor Freight crew that lifted two pallets into the BayCare truck. “Words can not express what this means for all of us at the hospital.”