SUPERIOR — Nurses are no strangers to lending a helping hand.

But a small group of nurses and hospital staff in Superior are making a big difference for nurses in Houston working through the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Joyce Carpenter, 63, of Superior said she got a call Tuesday from her daughter, who works as an RN in Houston. Nurses there are working long hours and sleeping at the hospital to keep up with the constant flow of the sick and injured affected by the devastating hurricane.

“Some of these nurses lost everything,” Carpenter said. “Some only have the scrubs they were wearing during the storm, and they are not allowed to work in dirty scrubs.”

After hearing from her daughter, Carpenter reached out to her friend Mitzi Francis, executive assistant of Mineral Community Hospital, to gather some extra scrubs to send to Houston.

And thus, Operation Scrubs With Love to Houston was born. Francis, 48, organized the project to collect spare scrubs from nurses, in addition to reserves the hospital keeps on hand. Within days, the small community gathered well over 100 sets of scrubs.

“We only have about 60 employees total, so really the credit is all to the staff,” Francis said. “Some brought one shirt, and some brought bags and bags of scrubs, but it was all really above anything I ever expected.”

Carpenter had planned to pay for the shipping costs, but after the unexpected turnout, she quickly realized it would cost a small fortune. Eric L. Davis Engineering, an engineering firm in Forney, Texas, stepped in to cover the cost of overnight shipping all of the scrubs.

The scrubs will be distributed to nurses needing them around the Houston area, Carpenter said. But if they end up with more than they need, she said they will be forwarded to Florida, where Hurricane Irma has left hospitals overwhelmed as well.

Francis said the Mineral Community Hospital is challenging Missoula's much larger Providence St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center to make a similar aid effort for nurses in Florida and Texas.

“Never in a million years would I have guessed scrubs would be something that would be needed during a hurricane,” Francis said. “But we’re just a great big family here at the hospital, and our nurses are all here to make a difference in any way we can.”

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