With the onset of COVID-19, Loretta Muss, the N.C. Cancer Hospital Patient & Family Advisory Council coordinator, worried about the toll fighting the virus would take on the hospital’s doctors, nurses and staff. That concern was shared by patients, as well as members of the Patient and Family Advisory Council.
It was fortunate coincidence that a consortium of restaurants in Carrboro, North Carolina reached out to Muss’ husband, Hy, the Mary Jones Hudson Distinguished Professor of Geriatric Oncology and director of geriatric oncology at the hospital, and said they were interested in helping, so she asked if they could do a meal for the hospital’s workers on limited funds.
Initially, Muss received funds from the Patient & Family Advisory Council, and, thanks to the efforts of some of the N.C. Cancer Hospital’s student lay navigators, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association also donated money, as did some local churches and the Muss’ neighbors. The COVID-19 Response Fund will continue to fund the effort once the other sources have been exhausted.
With these resources at her disposal, Muss was able to go from her initial thought of providing 50 dinners to serving more than 200 lunches to health care workers in the N.C. Cancer Hospital once a week. She said it’s the best way to help the coworkers she’s missing on a daily basis and to help keep the local economy solid.
“This is love,” she said. “I know so many of the staff; I work with them, establish relationships with them, and my husband works with them. These are very scary times. We feel like they’re going to be spoiled once a week, and we’re going to continue to do this until [COVID-19] is in our rearview mirrors,” she said.
Muss is also a talented baker and has been making desserts to go with the meals during her time at home. In addition to bringing her checks, friends and neighbors have been gifting Muss with bags of King Arthur flour, her preferred brand for baking.
“I will find 25 pounds of flour on my doorstep because people want to help, and they want to help those on the frontlines,” she said.