LANSING, Mich. — Grand Ledge resident Chuck Pantera was in Sparrow Hospital for a week last November battling COVID. As soon as he was discharged, he wanted to make sure the team of health care workers who took care of him received a special thank you meal.
“Those nurses, you know, work really hard. And sometimes they get patients that aren't very friendly. It's just my way of saying thank you. And it turns out they actually appreciate it a lot,” he said.
Laura Fellows is Sparrow Hospital’s executive chef and director of food nutrition. She helped Chuck with his goal.
“He was put in contact with me to provide a meal for the team. And he fed the entire floor, every doctor, nurse, patient care tech, everybody up there. When he saw how happy it made all of them. (they sent pictures of the team enjoying the food) He called me again and said, ‘I want to do this every month, call me once a month. And either I will pay for a meal, or I will find another donor. And if it's a really big department, and it's a lot of money, I'll send you two donors.’ “So now I get a call from Chuck every month,” Fellows said.
Pantera doesn’t do it alone. He is on the phone regularly asking friends and local businesses to help out with a donation.
“It's a community thing," he said. "I am just driving the bus and people are getting on like you can't believe. I’m going to need help. If it's good for everybody, then it's just good. Right? And it's a fun thing. I'm trying to be a good neighbor. I mean, you know, I've got good neighbors.”
The meals Pantera and his friends sponsor aren’t basic. They are three courses and all individually wrapped for safety.
Fellows and her team serve 1,200 to 1,400 patients every day, and that’s just the patients. Add on top of that all the meals for visitors and different departments and it is a huge task.
“It's extra but not in hard way, it's extra fun way," she said. "We have an amazing culinary team. I just hand them a menu and they run with that and provide these amazing meals we've got a great pastry chef who makes fun desserts for these teams every month. So, it's, it's just different work."
Nurse Carl Engler says he’s incredibly thankful for the kindness he’s been shown.
“My department received a letter saying what great care he received, and he wanted to say thank you," Engler said. "I appreciate that because I try to give great care every single time. You know, it's not just about the care. It's about actually taking care of somebody. You know, when you're in the hospital, you're not in the hospital for a good reason, generally. And you got to take care of all sides of somebody, not just a medical part.”
This isn’t the first time Pantera decided to do something to help others. Early on in the pandemic, he organized several charity events in Grand Ledge, where he owns the Sun Theatre, asking people to come downtown and pay what they can for movie popcorn as a fundraiser.
“Holy smokes, we had cars in every direction, the police actually came and said, ‘Look, you know, we are going to have a traffic problem.’ But it was during COVID and nobody's driving. They started directing traffic and we raised $9,000 last year for the food bank in Grand Ledge.”
We want to say thank you to Pantera and all the people and businesses that have made a difference, especially during the pandemic and If you would like to help sponsor a meal for a Sparrow health care worker, you can give him a call at (517) 627-1500.
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