Supporting front-line workers

Milton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center’s Admissions Coordinator Melissa Badman and Social Services’ Sue Marcoz accepted a donation of food items from the Milton Salvation Army’s Joel Harris and Lt. Jared Starnes.

MILTON — With 109 residents and 56 staff members of the Milton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center contracting COVID-19 in the midst of an outbreak of the virus at the facility, the Milton Salvation Army has stepped in to offer some comfort in an otherwise difficult time.

“We know a few people that work there that started to have symptoms of COVID,” Milton Salvation Army Lt. Jared Starnes explained. “We didn’t know the full impact of it until we saw in the news that the National Guard was called in.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Department of Human Services announced Wednesday, Aug. 18, that a National Guard team had been deployed to assist at the nursing center for five days. In addition, Senior Health Care Solutions of Scranton was announced to have temporarily taken over management of the facility.

Thirty-two residents of the facility have since passed away after contracting the virus, according to the DOH.

Upon learning the gravity of the situation at the nursing center, Starnes said the Salvation Army reached out to the center to see what it could do to help.

“They said if we could provide a meal once a week, that would be great, for the employees and the few people that are still in house,” Starnes said.

To date, the Salvation Army has provided 100 meals per week in each of the last two weeks.

“We are going to continue for at least the next couple of weeks,” Starnes said, of providing the weekly meals.

“It’s important because it’s part of our community,” he said. “These people that work there, they are just doing their job. They don’t necessarily have a choice not to go into the situation that they’re in. They need to provide for their family.”

In addition to providing the meals to the nursing center, Starnes said the food items are being purchased locally.

“(Local businesses) have been impacted by COVID,” he said. “We are kind of doing two services, is how we’re looking at it. We’re providing for the nursing home and we’re providing a little more revenue for these businesses.”

Starnes hopes that by having a weekly meal provided, the nursing center staff feel a little bit relief from the daily pressures they are facing.

Terri Greiner, the nursing center’s director of admissions and marketing, expressed thanks for the Salvation Army’s efforts.

“Milton Nursing and Rehab Center would like to thank the Milton Salvation Army, under the leadership of Lt. Jared Starnes, for providing meals for our staff,” she said. “The level of kindness and support they offer during this time of unspeakable sadness and grief has been uplifting. The meals were very appreciated, and enjoyed by everyone. We are blessed to have the Salvation Army in our community.”

Starnes said the Salvation Army has noticed how appreciative the staff have been upon receiving the meals.

“It’s a tough situation, that’s for sure,” he said. “We are just keeping them in our prayers.”

Starnes said the nursing center’s residents and staff must continue to be held in prayer.

“We believe that prayer is a foundation for everything,” he said. “We have been constantly keeping this situation with Milton rehab in prayer... We believe that God can move how he sees in his wisdom of this situation.”

Starnes said the Salvation Army will continue to be available for anyone impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak at the center.

“When we initially reached out (to the nursing center), we gave them my number and my wife’s number for anyone who is in need of prayer or spiritual guidance,” he said.

“We are here for them,” Starnes continued. “We are hoping that if anyone out there needs any sort of help they reach out. We will see what we, as a Salvation Army, are able to do.”

He added that if the Salvation Army is unable to help they will refer the individuals to other entities which may also be able to assist.

Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email

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