As the Big Island continues to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have ramped up efforts to offer support to those working on the front lines.
One of them is Tailwind Nutrition, a Colorado-based company founded by ultra endurance athletes, Jeff and Jenny Vierling, who recently sent boxes of nutrition to the hospital staff at Hilo Medical Center.
Tailwind Nutrition offers complete calories, electrolytes and hydration in a powdered form that are gluten free, non-GMO, vegan, soy and dairy free, and conveniently packaged in an Endurance Fuel stick pack. All one needs to do is add water.
It is part of a huge effort to support hospital staff during COVID-19, and Tailwind Nutrition shared how they want to help those on the front lines through a blog post on their website.
“We’d like to take a moment to share what Tailwind is doing during this difficult time for everyone and to thank you for your continuing support. Our hearts go out to you if you or a loved one are dealing with COVID-19 and to all of you who are facing challenges with layoffs and upheaval. Our health care professionals and everyone on the front lines are also foremost in our thoughts – we are grateful for all you are doing!”
The Vierlings went on to state, “We also recognize that staying hydrated and consuming enough calories during rigorous activities isn’t just for athletes. We’ve heard from a number of you about healthcare workers working long hours and finding it hard to get the nutrients and calories they need to stay energized and mentally sharp while serving on the front lines against COVID-19.
“In recent conversations with Medical Directors, we’ve learned that in an effort to reduce risks of contamination, many hospitals are limiting what people can bring in and out of the facility. Doctors and nurses are working 12-plus hour shifts with little more than a water bottle, and access to food can be limited. We’ve already donated thousands of Tailwind single-serve packets to NYC Presbyterian Hospital, Children’s National Hospital in D.C., and Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango. We are busy reaching out to the many (over 100!) hospitals you’ve referred to us in the last few days and hope that Tailwind’s products can help support our health care professionals across the country.”
As Tailwind Nutrition began donating products to hospitals across the country, Tailwind Nutrition Ambassador and host of Big Island Hawaii Ultra, Joe Loschiavo, jumped to the opportunity to extend Tailwind’s COVID support to Big Island medical facilities.
Loschiavo, an avid ultra endurance athlete who often competes in 50-mile or 100-mile running events, understands the value of having adequate nutrition and hydration for 12+ hours. Front line workers in hospitals are no different.
“I first thought about it when Tailwind first reached out to all of us Tailwind Trail Blazers,” Loschiavo said. “They were the ones who offered to do it in our communities. Since I’m lucky enough to know a lot of people who work at the hospitals and are in the medical profession I thought it would be a great idea to help the people, and have something good for them, who are out there working long shifts and in very stressful conditions.”
Loschiavo said he reached out to athletes who are employed at Hilo Medical Center, Kona Community Hospital, and West Hawaii Community Health Center to offer Tailwind Nutrition’s COVID staff support through their hydration and recovery products.
Hilo’s Keely McGhee, a registered nurse at Hilo Medical Center and race director for the Ohia Lehua Half Marathon and 100% Pure Kona Coffee Marathon and Half Marathon, was the first to respond.
“Joe had contacted me wondering if our floor would be interested in receiving some of the Tailwind products,” McGhee said. “I work on the surgical and pediatric floor now and our staff was very excited to receive the product. They sent us a whole box of Tailwind single serve packets — which is perfect for everybody at work. It’s an electrolyte drink with tons of sodium and potassium and caffeine in it. It was really special to receive this box from Tailwind – everyone was so excited. We felt really loved.”
McGhee said she has been an RN at Hilo Medical Center for the last three years and is also a health educator on the floor.
“For us, we often don’t get to take breaks and drink enough water,” said the 35-year old. “So to have an electrolyte replacement was really special as it’s one of the best things you could ask for. It keeps you nice and hydrated throughout the shift. Most of our nurses do work 12-hour shifts and are often here longer than that if the day is crazy. So Tailwind nutrition is probably the best thing you could ask for.”
McGhee said that Hilo Medical Center underwent extensive training in preparation for COVID-19.
“When we first had all of the COVID-19 stuff happening we were definitely worried about what the situation would bring,” McGhee said. “So we did a lot of training in the hospital and had a lot of nurses from different departments, who don’t work on the floor anymore, we did a lot of training with them to prepare for the possibility for them to come on the floor if we had an influx of COVID patients.
“We got really lucky on the Big Island as we actually didn’t see any COVID patients here at Hilo Medical. But we did a lot of training and the nurses worked extra hard to make sure we were ready. I feel really safe here and they did a really good job here at Hilo Medical.”
When asked about her Ohia Lehua Half Marathon slated for July 25 that also features a 10K, 5K and Keiki Dash runs, McGhee said, “It’s been canceled.”
“A couple weeks ago we sent out an email to a lot of the athletes and we are working right now to see if we could get some of our paid funds back,” McGhee said. “We finally made the decision a few weeks ago because May is typically when we order a lot of our shirts, medals — everything.”
With her 100% Pure Kona Coffee Marathon and Half Marathon still tentatively calendared for Nov. 7, McGhee said she is trying to keep active through running and feels thankful for the support Hilo Medical Center has received from Tailwind Nutrition.
“I’m training a lot, my poor husband hasn’t seen me at all,” McGhee said with a laugh. “It’s been work-running-work-running. If I couldn’t run I don’t think I would be able to stay sane. But really, I just want to thank Tailwind Nutrition and Joe for the support.”
Hilo Medical Center is one of nearly a 100 medical facilities across the country to receive COVID-19 support from Tailwind Nutrition, and the only medical facility from the State of Hawaii. To learn more about Tailwind Nutrition and their Hospital Product Donation campaign visit tailwindnutrition.com.