As executive director of the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation, Ken Coffey has seen an amazing outpouring of community support for the hospital, with local businesses, a church, a school, and individuals donating medical supplies.
“It shows how people feel about this hospital. We’re grateful to them for that support,” Ken says. “This is your hospital—this charitable support is so important because it touches so many lives in seven counties.”
As Ken works mostly from home and heeds the physical distancing recommendations for safety during the COVID-19 outbreak, he talks about his gratitude for the entire healthcare team at Self Regional. “The whole team, the custodians, the techs, nurses, and doctors, all are fighting this on the front line,” he says. “We are grateful for the courage and dedication that they show every day.”
With the peak of infections in the area expected in late April, the hospital has postponed nonessential surgeries and some big fundraising events. “I hope that this experience makes us all feel more grateful for what we have,” he adds. “We pray for those who are dealing with this in more intense circumstances.”
Dealing with the isolation, and staying in touch with friends and family by phone, email and Facebook, Ken finds release and inspiration in the natural beauty of Lake Greenwood. And he’s still playing some golf, with social distancing practices in place, walking or riding one person to a cart and foregoing the usual high fives for a great shot.
“Lack of sports is hard for some people, and the cancellation of the Masters in particular was a big deal because it marks the beginning of spring,” Ken says, citing just one of the changes to our daily lives.
While public access ramps are closed, those with access to private docks are still out on beautiful Lake Greenwood, and the fishing is great. “The fish are really biting,” he says, and his neighbors on the lake are bringing in big catches, particularly crappie.
In addition to enjoying Greenwood’s natural beauty, Ken and his family and friends are doing their best to support local Uptown businesses. “We’ve personally tried our best to take advantage of the take-out service...most locals are trying to support them,” he says.
Sometimes that means finding creative ways to show support. “The hospital’s foundation always hosts a volunteer appreciation get together one of the local restaurants. This year, we bought ‘Chamber Bucks’ that can be spent at local businesses.”
Still, he’s eager to get back out in the community as soon as it’s deemed safe. “It will be fun to just go to a restaurant and sit with a group of people. And we have a robust live music culture. It will be a great thing to do again.” he says. He even misses the committee meetings. “My work involves meeting with about 65 volunteers on six different committees. I miss those folks. I can’t wait to get back to those meetings and the interaction with the folks who help us do the Foundation’s work.”
“We’ll come back,” he says. “Americans do what they have to do, and we have to do these things.” Like most of the locals, he’s eager to spread the word about all the great things Greenwood has to offer.
“We still have small-town Americana here. That won’t change. We have an amazing natural and recreational resource in Lake Greenwood, for boating, fishing, camping, and hunting. We will still have great festivals, good blues music and barbecue.
“When this is all over, Greenwood is still gonna be Greenwood. Still a great place to live and to visit. Don’t be bashful—come to Greenwood.”