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Orange Park Hospital trade syringes, bandages for saws, paint brushes

A dozen volunteers help create PET carts at Penney Farms

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 3/16/23

PENNEY FARMS – On most days, Vicki Gibbs Lee works as a Physicians Laison at HCA Orange Park Hospital. But on Friday, March 10, she was a punch presser.

She joined a contingent from the …

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Orange Park Hospital trade syringes, bandages for saws, paint brushes

A dozen volunteers help create PET carts at Penney Farms


Posted

PENNEY FARMS – On most days, Vicki Gibbs Lee works as a Physicians Laison at HCA Orange Park Hospital. But on Friday, March 10, she was a punch presser.

She joined a contingent from the hospital building mobility carts for Personal Energy Transportation Florida Penney Farms.

The hand-powered carts are delivered worldwide for people who struggle with mobility. More important, there is no cost for the recipients.

Orange Park Hospital colleagues spent the day working with volunteers at Penney Farms Retirement Center who built more than 14,000 carts as part of its “We Show Up for Our Communities” program.

Lee took metal blanks and pressed them into brackets that connected the scooter’s shell to the floorboard.

The word seemed monotonous, but Lee quickly filled enough boxes of connectors to keep the volunteers at PET busy for months.

“It feels great,” Lee said. “I really got into it.”

Hospital CEO Lisa Valentine sanded the corners of planks used on the sides of the scooters. Jennifer Estrada, Sandy George and Selma Clark were in a back room painting each cart. Estrada is the Therapy Manager for Inpatient Rehabilitation; George is the Vice President for Quality; and Clark is the director of Infection Prevention.

“They are an extraordinary group of people who really are serving a need worldwide,” Valentine said. “They manufacture these. I guess what they

what they call hand-powered self-mobility.

“And they work with other sites across the US and deliver these to 120 countries worldwide, all for free for men, women and children with disabilities who are unable to walk. It was started by a missionary (and long-time Penney Farms resident Larry Hills). He served in Africa, and he saw that there were people who were unable to work, go to school, or care for their families because they simply did not have transportation.”

Chief Operating Officer Pete Long’innes worked with PET volunteer Mike Kolodka on packing the carts into a box to be shipped. Each contained the cart, seat, three wheels, a hand-driven chain drive and handlebars.

A Florida Veterans Hall of Fame Society member connected PET with Orange Park Hospital.

“David Quirk was the individual who talked to us about the program,” Valentine said. “He explained what it was for, and then they had a number of volunteers that knew how to teach others to manufacture the parts to make these particular devices.”

Kolodka not only instructed the hospital volunteers on how to build a cart, but he also ensured they understood each menial task’s role in the completed project.

One volunteer spent hours cutting carpet padding into squares. Kolodka asked her to take a break, and he showed her how the pads projected the carts during shipping.

According to Valentine, HCA Florida colleagues across the state participated in a “We Show Up for Our Communities service week” by giving back and supporting their local communities. Orange Park picked PET after it learned more than 800 wheelchairs are constructed at Penney Farms and donated to more than 120 countries so people can enjoy some form of transportation.

“One of the things they talked about was one person can make a difference,” she said. “The idea that this missionary came up with to help others and, from my perspective, one person can make a difference – but a team can do so much more.

“And so they were great about making sure our team could contribute in a meaningful way.