Project HELP has been providing free and confidential services to victims of rape, violence, crime and sudden traumatic loss of a loved one for over 34 years. We serve all crime victims of Collier County with crisis counseling, therapy, civil and criminal advocacy, support groups and a 24/7 Crisis and Sexual Assault HELPline (239) 262-7227/(800)329-7227.

During these trying times with COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, along with social distancing,  working remotely, and not having much interaction with other people, we know that depression is a tough battle to conquer. Nearly 17 million people are diagnosed with depression in the United States each year. Symptoms of depression may include being in a depressed mood for most of the day, a decreased interest in activities that were once pleasurable to the individual, significant unintentional weight loss or gain, too much sleep or too little sleep, agitation, fatigue or a decrease in energy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, a decrease in ability to concentrate, and reoccurring thoughts of death and/or suicide.

If these feelings persist longer than two weeks and they are disrupting your work, your social life, and/or your school, then please seek help, talk to your therapist or doctor. If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out to 1-800-273-TALK.

Also know that if you just need to talk or brainstorm how to cope during depression Project Help has a 24/7 crisis HELPline, (239) 262-7227, staffed with people who will listen and who will provide coping skills, brainstorm ways to help yourself and help you to find the resources you need if you are seeking help for depression.

If you are already receiving help for depression or you feel like you may be depressed but want to see if you can do anything on your own to lessen your feelings of depression, then continue reading. However, please, do not hesitate to seek help or talk to someone about the way you are feeling. Call a best friend, a trusted co-worker, a parent or sibling, or if you cannot think of anyone in your social support circle, then give Project Help’s crisis HELPline a call, and we will be there for you.

Four ways to decrease feelings of depression:

1. Exercise! Exercising and physical activities cause neurons in your brain to increase the amount of serotonin that is released. Scientists have found that a decrease, lacking, or absence of serotonin in the brain is correlated to an increase in feelings of depression. You are probably thinking to yourself, “that sounds great, but I am not going to spend money on a gym membership, I do not have the time, etc”. Well there are some free resources that you can do from home that will help you to incorporate more exercise into your life.

YouTube! YouTube is full of hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of videos that are posted by people like you and I every single day. There are thousands of videos with work out routines that you can do from home. Just search for “exercise videos” in the search bar on the YouTube homepage. Try it, you’ll be happy you did.

You can find a free running program easily on the internet. It’s called “Couch to 5K”. It is a program designed to gradually introduce you to running by starting with walking and running intervals. You can find the written description of the program There are also iPhone and Android phone apps that will allow you to play your own music and will prompt you when to run and when to walk.

If none of these suggestions or examples work for you, then just get out and walk. Take your dog for a walk, find a nice park with some good scenery and walk around, take a walk around your work place during your lunch break. Do what
you can and what you feel comfortable with, that is all that matters. If you try to incorporate some exercise into your every day routine, that is the important part. The first step is usually the hardest, but if you can do just that, then you should be proud of yourself.

2. Eat healthy. If you put junk into your body, then you will feel like junk. The same goes for the opposite end of that spectrum, if you put good, healthy things into your body, then you will feel good and healthy. Use the resources you have available to you. Use the internet to find healthy recipes. Invite a friend over to be your taste tester.

3. Get some sun! There is a subset of depression called SAD, which stands for Seasonal Affect Disorder. This disorder usually affects those who live in climates that are typically cold during the fall and winter, not at all like Florida, and when it stays darker longer.

People who lives in states like Alaska are usually at risk for SAD and they must take  precautions, like using artificial lighting, to avoid feeling sad (see what I did there?).

However, the absence of getting regular sunlight can also affect your mood. Try to spend 15 minutes outdoors (like while you are outside walking or running your new Couch to 5K program) in the sunlight (with adequate amounts of sunscreen of course), which should be no problem considering we live in Southwest Florida.

4. Laugh. Scientists have done studies that have found that the simple act of smiling can increase feelings of happiness. Find at least one reason to smile a day. If you cannot do that, then again, use your resources. Go onto YouTube and search for cat videos. Do a google search for your favorite types of jokes. Have a friend text you once a day with a funny story.

Do something to incorporate some humor into your life. Try as hard as you can to look on the positive side of things. Do not look at the glass as half-full or half empty. Just look at the glass and be grateful that there is something in there. So, try this, right now, try smiling for the next three minutes. I am sure you will feel something change in your day.

Depression is hard. However, you do not have to fight it alone. Seek help if you are unsure of the path you are taking. Talk to someone. It does not have to be a professional. It can be a friend, co-worker, or a parent. Also keep in mind that Project Help is here for you 24/7, (239) 262-7227, we have hotline staff that is ready and able to help you figure out the next step.

Project Help is your local rape crisis center offering FREE & CONFIDENTIAL services. Services may include evidence collection, exam, immediate crisis intervention, working with law enforcement if reporting, counseling groups, court assistance, information and referrals, and our 24-hour hotline.

If you need HELP…call our hotline: 239-262-7227

Valerie’s House a Place to Heal

Although the world around us is changing every day, the vision of local nonprofit, Valerie’s
House, remains the same: no child will grieve alone.

After losing her mother, Valerie, when she was only 10 years old, Valerie’s House Founder and CEO, Angela Melvin, was determined to establish a place in Southwest Florida where children could come together to talk about grief and learn loss doesn’t have to limit their dreams. Recognizing a local need, Angela decided to focus her life’s work on establishing a children’s bereavement center that would be a haven for grieving children and their families.

When Valerie’s House first launched its peer support groups in Fort Myers in 2016, the need for children’s grief services across all of Southwest Florida quickly became clear. Valerie’s House expanded its services to Naples in March 2017 and, after initially holding groups at North Naples Church, opened the doors of Valerie’s House Naples in September 2019. In 2019, groups also began meeting in Punta Gorda at First United Methodist Church. The future includes plans to break ground on a “forever home” for Valerie’s House headquarters in Fort Myers in 2021 and the dream of a permanent location to serve Charlotte County families.

The 2020 Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model (CBEM) reveals 1-in-13 children in Florida will experience the loss of a parent or sibling by the age of 18. Children who have lost a parent or sibling desperately need an outlet where they can discuss the heavy topics surrounding death and where they can express complex emotions, without the fear of making others feel uncomfortable. At Valerie’s House children and caregivers gain a sense of belonging in a safe place where they can share their feelings with others who truly understand. Those who have experienced loss know how lonely the journey through grief can be. Through peer grief support groups that utilize creative outlets and play therapy techniques, Valerie’s House has helped more than 1,200 individuals to date. Program participants learn healthy coping skills and receive tools that help them go on to live fulfilling lives.

This March, when it became clear it was no longer safe to meet in person due to Covid-19 concerns, Valerie’s House transitioned to virtual groups using the HIPPA-compliant platform, Zoom Healthcare. Continuing programming throughout the pandemic has been essential to meeting the needs of grieving children and families. After already experiencing great personal loss, families reported the circumstances surrounding the pandemic intensified their feelings of isolation and anxiety. Seeing friends virtually and continuing progress in their grief journey has provided a sense of safety and security during an unprecedented time. Following the school district’s lead, Valerie’s House plans to reopen its doors for in-person groups in August and will adhere to all necessary safety precautions and social distancing guidelines.

Since loss never stops, neither does Valerie’s House. The Valerie’s House team is focused on meeting the needs of every grieving child through their free grief services which, in addition to peer support groups, now include the Val’s PALs mentor program, individual therapy, school-based support, and personalized family care.

Loss does not have to limit your dreams and Valerie’s House is living proof. Although the foundation of the organization is grief, its mission is built around love, understanding, strength, and hope. Those are the things it strives to share with the Southwest Florida community.  Valerie  herself would be proud. Her legacy lives on inside the walls of Valerie’s House and through each child that walks through its doors.

Ongoing community support during this uncertain time has enabled Valerie’s House to continue providing support to grieving children and families. If you would like to support Valerie’s House or schedule a tour of Valerie’s House Naples or Fort Myers, please visit  or email Director of Strategic Initiatives, Jennifer Clark, at or Development and Communications Coordinator, Sarah Desrosiers, at

Valerie’s House is hosting its 2020 Sunset Soiree on Thursday, October 29, 2020, with virtual and in-person options. The main event will be held at the Quail West Golf and Country Club in Naples at 7 pm. To purchase tickets and learn more about this special night, please visit

To help share the mission and stay connected, follow Valerie’s House on the following social media platforms:





To learn about volunteer opportunities, please visit or contact Assistant Director of Group Support, Ally O’Brien, at

William Douglass Candidate for District 1 County Commissioner …Have you met?

My name is William Douglass and I am a proud results-oriented conservative Republican.

In 1984 I moved from Ohio to Collier County to manage a local restaurant. Three years later I found my love in serving my community, as a firefighter with East Naples Fire Department.  After 30 years of service, recently retired as Act. Battalion Chief/lieutenant with the Greater Naples Fire District. I am proud to have served my community, both professionally and civically, and with my wife of 30 years, Lisa, raised two amazing children, Kayla (28), Tyler (23).

My life’s work has been involved in making our community a better and a safer place to live. I believe talk without action means little. Character, dedication and commitment to others is the fingerprint we leave behind on what we touch. Service to others first is my credo.

As a first responder, I saw first-hand the various needs in our community – needs that too often remained unmet. In 1989, I helped reestablish the Naples Jaycees after several years of dormancy. As president, I listened to this community, rallied my membership and established a July 4th Fireworks and Festival that raised funding to meet the needs of our community.

The Jaycee Creed states that faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life…and service to humanity is the best work of life. My life embodies this. I have worked with youth organizations and countless local and national agencies. From veterans to disaster victims, I have assisted individuals in crisis to improve their lives.

I believe in fiscal responsibility and common-sense solutions not bureaucratic ones. It’s about people, not politics.  As County Commissioner I will preserve our low tax rate, sustain our quality of life and safety, improve traffic flow, requires smart growth and advocate for workforce, senior, and veteran housing.

I believe we must safeguard our precious natural resources – clean water, clean air, and pristine coastlines. I will work to attract and retain local businesses to expand the tax base.

Service is in my blood. It is the main reason I am running for District 1 Commissioner. My tenure is a testament to my unwavering support for my community. Retiring made me realize I am not done yet – I have more to give.

 I can’t do this without you, I need your vote, on August 18th.

Vote for me if you want a full-time commissioner with 35 years of knowledge, experience, community service and protection of your quality of life and safety, I am the only candidate that has this experience and qualification to lead from Day 1.

Bruce Buchanan A candidate for Seat 4, Collier Mosquito Control District

I am a Veteran having served in the 32nd Army Air Defense Command, stationed at the United States Air Force headquarters in Europe. Upon leaving the Service I embarked upon a 28 year career in radio/broadcasting. This took me throughout America in the roles of program director, operations manager, consultant and youngest TV news anchor/news director. I had the privilege of watching history be made when I produced and directed on-site coverage of the Berlin Wall for a Washington based radio group in 1989.

I have earned both a United States Coast Guard Captain License and FAA Private Pilot Certificate. These have allowed me to work, travel and explore the United States and Caribbean. My career choices have given me the abilities to think both strategically and tactically accompanied by finely honed planning, organizational and budgeting skills.

Since 1997 my family has resided in Naples, putting down roots to raise a family. With that part now behind me my attention focused on aviation and my co-piloting cats. I am involved in bringing our community’s youth into the fold to allow them the chance to discover flying through the EAA’s Young Eagles free flight opportunities and the airplane building Naples Youth Aviation Project.

As a Naples Airport tour guide since 2015, I have visited the Collier County Mosquito Control District facility many times and I am familiar with the operation.  My goal in joining the Collier Mosquito Control District Seat #4 is to provide fiscal and safety monitoring for an operation needed to continue the highest quality of life in our county.

Community Foundation’s message to the community

Dear Friends,

As we come to the end of another eventful week, I want to thank you for the support I received after last week’s letter. I am deeply touched that you took the time to reach out and value all of your comments and suggestions. I want to assure you that the Community Foundation will indeed stand by our commitment to be engaged and part of the discussion to promote equity and social justice. In the upcoming weeks, we will be working with local Black leaders who will head a community conversation and discuss the role the Community Foundation can play. Our goal is that this not be a moment — but a movement.

I am excited to tell you that after years of hard work, the collaboration between CFCC, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, and Moorings Park Foundation to provide much-needed affordable housing on the site of the old Golden Gate golf course has finally been approved! 350-400 brand new apartments will house essential workers such as first responders and teachers, along with housing for veterans and senior citizens with rents not exceeding 30% of income. Watch the WINK News report from the Collier County Commissioners meeting about this much-anticipated project.

Thanks to this public/private partnership,and the donation of 30 acres of land by Collier County government, this innovative project will be a reality. Joining our efforts is Rural Neighborhoods, the approved nonprofit land developer. While the project will take a few years to complete, it shines a ray of hope for those who teach our children, protect our lives and property, and provide other essential services in Collier County but can’t afford to live here. For all they do for us, we owe them, and our seniors and veterans, a decent place to live that they can afford.

I am also happy to report that the Collier Comes Together Fund is still going strong and enabling great work in our community. We were proud to have our coronavirus relief efforts featured this week in the Business Observer, along with our philanthropic partners at other Southwest Florida community foundations. So far, we have received almost $1.5 million in donations. Of that, over $810,000, along with an additional $215,000 granted directly from Community Foundation Donor Advised Funds (DAFs), has been distributed so far. Recent grants include $20,000 to NAACP of Collier County for emergency assistance for COVID-19 relief to the River Park community. In addition, gift cards were distributed to The Shelter for Abused Women & Children, the Guadalupe Center and NAACP to assist with basic needs such as food and housing.

We are committed to helping our nonprofits survive during this economically challenging time and have modified our grant making process to focus on unrestricted operational grants. We know our local nonprofits who do vital work in our community are reeling from lost income from events and donations, so our new grant process will help keep them afloat. We anticipate over $850,000 in grants will be awarded in late July thanks in part to Collier Comes Together funds, Angel Fund Grants, and DAFs, whose donors want to help us fund more grant requests. Thank you to all who are making these organization-saving grants possible!

Finally, we have not forgotten about those affected by the Golden Gate fires. A $20,000 grant was given to Salvation Army of Naples last week to assist those individuals and families displaced or impacted by the Golden Gate Estates wildfires that ravaged about 9,000 acres and affected or destroyed almost 20 single-family and mobile homes. Like us, 100% of funds donated to the Salvation Army are distributed without any administrative fees. Thanks to your donations, these families are receiving basic needs assistance, including housing, clothing, and food.

I am so grateful for the philanthropic partnerships that allow us to make lasting, meaningful change. Great things do, indeed, happen when a community comes together.

With gratitude,

Eileen Connolly-Keesler  CFCC President and CEO



Hodges University… Getting to a New Normal

By: Teresa Araque

The year 2020 has been an extraordinary experience in the unpredictable.

“The disruption of COVID-19 has impacted just about every aspect of our lives, both personally and professionally,” said Dr John Meyer, president of Hodges University. “And not just in our region, but worldwide.”

For higher education, the impact has meant changing the delivery of education to entirely online for several months.
“Fortunately for us, that change really has been minimal because we already teach the majority of our classes online, and it’s something we have been doing for 25 years,” said Dr. Meyer. “Our professors know how to engage students in an online environment. “

Having every operational aspect of Hodges University online is the result of implementing an existing plan. “Actually,  the scenario we are in now, with all faculty and staff working remotely, and all students online, is part of our emergency plan,” said Dr. Meyer. “That plan was designed for a scenario like a hurricane. In our 30 plus years in the community, this is the first time we’ve had to implement this plan for such an extended period of time. What we’ve found is that overall, it has worked pretty well.” Even with a remote operating plan, the goal is to get faculty, staff, and students back on campus sooner rather than later, and to do so in a safe manner.

“For our healthcare programs, which do require our students to have clinical, hands-on experience, it meant we shifted the online learning to the front of the schedule, leaving the clinical and lab aspects next,” Dr. Meyer continued. “We want to ensure that our students receive the most comprehensive and applicable education and training possible, and in healthcare, they cannot graduate without that hands-on component.”

As the state of Florida moves into Phase II of reopening the state, Hodges University became the first in the state to welcome students back onto campus on June 1 st . “We have started with our Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) students,” said Dr. Meyer. “Our instructors and students wanted to get back on campus, not only for the camaraderie each class develops, but also to get the clinical and hands on training they need.”

Dr Cindy Vaccarino

The PTA students came back to campus in Fort Myers to the newly renovated Health Sciences Building. This building stands three stories with over 48,000 square feet of classroom and lab space dedicated to teaching the health professions. The PTA students have two spacious labs and a computer classroom. “From just a dream to now, the whole process has been amazing,” said Dr. Cindy Vaccarino, PT, DPT, and PTA Program Director. “We have so much more space for taking what we’ve learned in class and applying it.

Our new labs include the equipment that you would see in a physical therapy practice. We’ve added a kitchen so that we can also teach our students to help patients learn to manage activities of daily living while also recovering and regaining mobility and strength.” The instructors and students attend class in personal protective equipment (PPE), and are screened each day before entering the building.

“As excited as we are to be back, we are taking precautions as well,” said Dr. Vaccarino. “We use hand sanitizer constantly and follow state and federal guidelines. The students are truly committed this profession and their learning.  They are more than excited to be back in the classroom and so is the faculty.  The students have been resilient during this time and this continues to show as they put on their PPE and start working with each other again.”

The goal is to continue phasing in more on-campus classes over the summer. Dr. Meyer said that the next group of students to come back on campus would likely be the nursing students and Emergency Medical students in July. Additional health sciences lab classes will also begin the process to move back on campus.

“Ultimately, we plan to be fully operational on campus for the start of fall classes,” said Dr. Meyer. 

jenny gezella… “We are so excited to get back out on the water with you!”

Our Response to COVID-19 to Ensure the Safest Environment for You

To our valued guests: We are closely monitoring government both locally and nationally on policy changes, CDC guidelines, government mandates and public health advancements. We will continue to make changes as necessary or appropriate to our policies and procedures but want to ensure you that we care deeply about our guests and family of employees and want to ensure the highest level of safety for everyone. Our guidelines have been developed in consultation with the Passenger Vessel Association, US Coast Guard, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association as well as local health care officials. 

Moving forward, along with our already stringent cleaning protocols here are some of the other things we are doing to ensure your safety:

  • Pre-shift temperature checks for all staff members
  • All employees will be required to wear face masks
  • Adhering to strict deep and more frequent sanitizing and cleaning prior, during and after each cruise, along with providing sanitation stations on board the boat and office. All areas will be taken into consideration including boarding ramps.
  • More frequent hand washing, more cautious handling of foods, beverages, utensils, etc. and playing close attention to exceeding any new standard as directed by State and Local Agencies
  • Tables and seating areas will be rearranged to adhere to the 6 foot Social Distancing Guidelines
  • We will remind guests to adhere to the CDC’s Guidelines on safe Social Distancing including maintaining 6 feet from other parties and remind you to wash your hand often, use provided hand sanitizer stations, avoid handshakes and most importantly have fun while cruising with us.

Providing the safest, most comfortable experience on the water.

Come join us! (Limited schedule & availability)

Visit to book your cruise! 

We look forward to welcoming you aboard!

Friends of Foster Children Forever Provides Unique Support During Difficult Times

The quote “Necessity is the Mother of Invention,” has never been more true than during the first six months of 2020.

On any given day there are approximately 400 children in the foster care system in Collier County. In good times and bad the nonprofit Friends of Foster Children Forever is there to help the most vulnerable children.

The 501c3 organization’s goal is to connect foster children between the ages of 2 months to 5 years with early education centers and provide children ages 5 to 18 with tutoring during and/or after school. They also pay for the foster children’s summer and winter camps and enrichment activities such as dance classes, gymnastics, music lessons and sports programs.

In March,the Corona virus severely affected all aspects of life in Southwest Florida and nonprofit organizations were drastically impacted. As a result, Friends of Foster Children Forever immediately reviewed their current services and made changes to continue to meet the children’s needs safely. The staff began working remotely but were still able to provide the same level of care to support foster children.

“No matter what, we are going to be there to help foster children in our community,” said Ann Hughes, Executive Director of Friends of Foster Children Forever. “During these unprecedented times, the staff was able to pivot and come up with new and exciting ways to help foster children and their families.”

During the same time,Collier County Public Schools announced that all children would be “attending” school from their homes. The school district did an outstanding job of quickly enabling students to work remotely from home by training their teaching staff to use software that virtually connected them with their students.They provided almost 14,000 laptops to the students who needed them along with internet access to about 5,000 families.

Piggybacking on this amazing feat, within one week,the staff at Friends of Foster Children Forever was able to train their 53 Academic Mentors so they could tutor foster children remotely.As a result, the children continued to receive the extra support and encouragement they needed to do well in school.

Sadly, many of the foster families’ caregivers found their jobs in jeopardy as their hours were cut or they were placed on furlough. Many foster families live paycheck-to-paycheck and the disruption in income created additional stress as the caregivers struggled to make-ends-meet. Friends of Foster Children Forever stepped up to help and supplied 80 families with emergency gift cards, valued up to  $250, so they could pay bills such as utilities and rent.

Most day cares remain closed and many caregivers are struggling at home with limited work hours. To help the littlest foster children and their families,Friends of Foster Children Forever continues to provide necessities like diapers, wipes, strollers, and other supplies. With the caregivers’ hours cut paying for necessities for babies and toddlers can be very expensive. Brain development at this young age is so important and it can be challenging to teach children educational, yet fun activities. Education is paramount to a foster child’s future. Fifty families with foster children between the ages of 3 and 5 were provided free mini tablets that were filled with educational applications and programs.

The Corona virus is also impacting the donation to many nonprofit organizations with events being cancelled or postponed. Friends of Foster Children’s annual fundraiser the Boogie Bash was scheduled for March 20th and was cancelled. This fundraiser was one of the major sources of revenue to support the programs that help foster children. In May, Friends of Foster Children Forever held one of the first virtual fundraisers in the country so they could continue to provide much-needed services to the children. Supporters tuned-in online to watch a live and silent auction and learn more about how to help.

Now more than ever Friends of Foster Children Forever wants to make sure these kids continue to have fun. To continue exploring ways to help the “whole” child they have children who are taking virtual STEM camps, yoga classes, violin lessons and piano lessons.

“Foster children need our help now more than ever,” said Ann Hughes, executive director. “We are looking into a multitude of options to continue to make sure they have the childhood they deserve. Our goal is to provide hope and happiness to foster children every day.”

To learn how to support foster children call 239-262-1808 or visit





Alzheimer’s is a Public Health Crisis Devastating Florida ,the Alzheimer’s Association Can Help

There are currently more than 580,000 Floridians aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s. It is expected that this number will grow to 720,000 by 2025. Physicians worry that the medical profession is not prepared to face this demand and believe that there are not enough options for continuing education and training. They also agree that dementia care is a rapidly evolving area of medicine that requires ongoing learning and training. In 2019 there were 348 practicing geriatricians in Florida. It is estimated that 1,365 are needed to meet the future dementia care needs of Florida’s seniors in 2050.

“With the number of Florida residents living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias increasing, it’s critically important that we take steps to ensure primary care physicians and other providers across the state are fully prepared to meet current and future dementia care needs,” said Angela McAuley, regional leader for the Alzheimer’s Association in Florida. “The Alzheimer’s Association is committed to helping primary care physicians and all who provide care to Florida residents living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most expensive disease in the United States costing $305 billion a year. In Florida alone there are 1,565 emergency department visits per 1,000 people with dementia.

Due to the cost of the disease many families can’t provide paid care and are left caring for their loved ones on their own. More than 1.2 million Florida residents serve as unpaid family caregivers, providing over 1.3 billion hours of unpaid care. Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women, and one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters.

“The 2020 ‘Facts and Figures’ report shows that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias continue to be a significant burden for too many Florida families,” said McAuley. “We must continue to work aggressively to advance new treatments that can stop or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, while also continuing to provide care and support services to help all those affected.”


The first survivor of Alzheimer’s is out there. Contact Kathy Heldman at 727.316.9379 to make a donation or learn more about other giving opportunities in your area.


A message to our Community from Paul Hiltz NCH President & CEO

Hello, Southwest Florida. I hope you are all safe and healthy.

by Paul Hiltz
NCH President & CEO

Well, we have certainly flattened the curve on COVID-19 thanks, in large part, to our amazing healthcare staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of our Southwest Florida community.

But there is still a lot we don’t know about this virus. And while many communities across the nation begin to open up their shops, restaurants, and beaches, we are reminded of the many safety precautions we must adhere to.

We’re about five months into this crisis and we’re not in the beginning, nor are we at the end. Instead, we’re at the beginning of the end.

Our community has done an incredible job of adapting to a new normal – things like social distancing, washing their hands, and wearing face masks to help the spread of the coronavirus. This attention to safety is a major reason why things are starting to open, so we must be diligent to continue these practices.

Speaking of re-openings, NCH Healthcare System is proud to say that we are up and running at full capacity. In fact, we have been for quite some time now. And I give credit to our amazing staff, physicians, nurses and administrators for implementing such comprehensive and meticulous safety protocols to care and protect our staff who ultimately care for our community.

Care is at the center of our mission at NCH. Patient care is why we do this job – to ensure that not only patients are healthy, but our community as well. And if the COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it is that you can never be too careful. That is why we’ve put safety at the core of patient care.

Care is at the center of our mission at NCH. Patient care is why we do this job – to ensure that not only patients are healthy, but our community as well. And if the COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it is that you can never be too careful. That is why we’ve put safety at the core of patient care.

Patients in Naples can safely visit our healthcare facilities to meet with their doctors, undergo elective surgeries, or in the event of an emergency, visit our ER. All departments and staff are equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure that our patients are being taken care of safely and effectively.

Where we’ll be in six months, no one knows. While many experts work diligently to find a vaccine for COVID-19, all we can do is band together to keep our community and ourselves safe.

NCH has been blessed to receive an outpouring of donations from our community.Restaurants have delivered food to our staff and donors have given money to help purchase equipment during these trying times. Every donation, letter, poster, card and prayer has been felt and appreciated by our team.

The power of the human spirit is truly inspirational, and it is strong in Southwest Florida. Please don’t be afraid to visit us if you need help or feel sick. We are here to serve you and are proud to care for you with safety and compassion.

Thank you and stay safe.

Paul Hiltz, FACHE