By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator  

For a few precious, albeit rare, moments, 100 health care workers at North Oaks Hospital in Hammond had a glance back to the days before the coronavirus pandemic changed the world.  

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Father Jamin David, second from right, is pictured with health care workers from North Oaks Hospital in Hammond on April 29. St. Margaret Queen of Scotland Church in Albany, where Father David is pastor, partnered with the SteaKhouse in Hammond to provide 100 meatloaf lunches to the workers. Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator 


Ditching their normal PB&J sandwiches on April 29, these behind-the-scenes health care workers that included lab techs and clinical workers were able to savor a delectable meatloaf lunch with all of the trimmings provided by The SteaKhouse in Hammond. 

Restaurant owners Blake and Megan Kinchen partnered with St. Margaret Queen of Scotland Church in Albany to provide the meals.  

“The meals are definitely encouraging and lift our spirits a lot,” said Alexis Dominguez, a nurse practitioner at North Oaks Family Medicine. “It actually brings us into normalcy in the clinic when we are able to have food outside of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we bring for ourselves.  

“We get to have a meal that is not only delicious but comes from somebody’s heart.”  

Pastor Father Jamin David said reaching out to others in need is part of St. Margaret’s social outreach legacy but the stay-at-home order has forced the parish to reinvent how to serve others. He recalled how St. Margaret answered the call during the flood of 2016 when the church opened its doors to hundreds of motorists trapped on Interstate 12.  

“Serving a hot meal to first responders seemed like a logical, tactile way that we could reach out to others in our community,” Father David said. “It brings joy to our hearts and smiles to our faces to see medical professionals feel the incarnational love of God through our small acts of kindness and charity.”  

Mike Arnold, laboratory operations manager for North Oaks, said he was touched because donations such as meals show that he and his colleagues are making a difference in the community.  

“It shows we are helping in a positive way trying to get through these trying times,” Arnold said. “And the amount of support we received from organizations is overwhelming to me.”  

According to Melanie Zaffuto, public relations coordinator for North Oaks, community support has been overwhelming. She said the hospital has received more than 200 donations in the form of meals (that have fed every employee at some point), snacks, PPE supplies including masks, cards and posters.  

“Every single one of those donations is very special to us,” Zaffuto said. “It comes from the heart and people who are giving support. It really makes us feel and know we are all in this together, that spirit of community.”