DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) —Southeast Health and Michelin North America have come together to shut down the spread of COVID without shutting down the economy.
“When COVID first hit, it kind of shocked everybody and we did several things to try and control it and one of the most drastic things was shutting down our economy,” said Southeast Health, Chief Medical Officer, Charles Harkness. “And that proved to be not just devastating from a health standpoint but it was clearly devastating from a financial standpoint.”
Harkness says health officials were forced to not only address the pandemic but also keep the economy open. That’s when Michelin came in.
“Michelin reached out to us and said how do we do that in a manufacturing environment,” Harkness said.
According to Michelin’s plant manager, the shutdown caused them to sideline all of their employees. Now, Michelins’ number one priority is the health, safety, and wellbeing of its employees and suppliers.
“Since then we have put a very enormous amount of very rigorous protocols in place so that we are able to restart our factory in a manner that was safe for our employees and also safe for our suppliers to be able to come in and deliver items,” said Plant Manager for Michelin North America Dothan site, Felicia Sanders.
These protocols include more time between shift changes, masks, mask changes, and a screening process which is administered to everyone who enters the facility. All of this to keep the economy rolling.
“The key is trying to avoid shutting down the economy and at the same time shutting down COVID we’re trying to do both and I think we can,” Harkness said. “And in essence, this partnership is really about a call to action for our community so that we can all follow the very simple guidelines and avoid something like another shutdown,” Sanders said.
The Michelin Dothan manufacturing plant donated 50,000 masks to Southeast Health and Flowers Hospital at the beginning of the pandemic. Now through a partnership with Southeast, they are trading in the tires for running shoes and planning a virtual COVID-19k marathon to raise money for PPE.