The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

August 18, 2011

Mike Pound: Woman’s effort snags scrubs for Joplin

By Mike Pound

JOPLIN, Mo. — It was an idea so simple and so obvious that it makes people slap their head and say “Why didn’t I think of that?”

At least that’s what I thought when I heard that Cate Loch has been collecting  “scrubs” to give away to replace those lost in  the May 22 tornado. I mean, here we have thousands of homes, many businesses and  an entire hospital — St. John’s Regional Medical Center —  basically destroyed.

So it stands to reason that lost in all of the destruction would be the ubiquitous scrubs that have become the daily working uniform for all sorts of people who work in the medical field.

It’s something that should have occurred to me long ago, but didn’t because ... well, because I am a moron.

Thankfully, Cate Loch is not a moron. Cate, who moved here from Annapolis, Md., three years ago, used to work as a patient advocate in the emergency room at the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. A day or two after the tornado, a former co-worker from the hospital called Cate wanting to know what the hospital could do to help.

“Well it was Monday or Tuesday night after the tornado, and I had to say ‘I don’t have a clue’,” Cate said.

A few days later, Cate was talking to a friend who is a nurse at Freeman Hospital. The friend talked a bit about some of the tragic things she saw at the hospital on the night of the storm. The friend also mentioned to Cate that at least 450 medical professionals lost their homes in the tornado

“It hit me that they shouldn’t have to worry about having something to wear to go back to work, and I thought ‘Let’s do a scrub drive,’” she said.

In addition to those folks who lost their homes and belongings, Cate said, a large number of St. John’s employees lost scrubs that had been stored in the lockers in the hospital. Making things even tougher for St. John’s employees is the fact that many of them have been temporarily  reassigned to other hospitals with different scrub requirements. Other people, who didn’t lose anything in the storm, ruined scrubs while they were helping clean up debris around their workplaces in the days after the storm.

See, that’s the deal here. We’re not just talking about St. John’s and Freeman employees. We’re talking about people who work in doctors’ offices, nursing homes, pharmacies and clinics. When you think about it, scrubs just might be one of the most common work uniforms in Joplin.

And the way Cate and friends like Carolyn Trout, who is helping with the drive, see it, the dedicated people who make up the area’s medical work force have been through enough. The last thing they should have to do is scramble to find new work clothes.

When word about the scrub drive got out, Cate was inundated with donated scrubs. The Anne Arundel Medical Center immediately sent 500 to 600 scrubs. The Midwest Transplant Center in Kansas City sent 200 to 300, a large hospital in Indianapolis, Ind., sent a huge donation, and smaller hospitals and nursing homes from all over the country have donated to the  drive.

In fact, so many scrubs have been donated to the drive that Cate has enough for now.

“Don’t send me any more,” she said with a laugh. “But we do need scrub hats.”

In a way, Cate said, the  drive has been therapeutic both for herself and for the medical workers who have dropped by her house to pick up scrubs.

“They’ll spend 10 or 15 minutes looking at the scrubs, and then tell me their (tornado) stories,” she said.

If you are in need of scrubs you can find more information on Cate’s Facebook page “Scrubs For Joplin” or you may call 410-340-0314.