CLICK HERE: for COVID-19 Information and Vaccine Availability


Educational health information to improve your well-being.

It Takes a Village: Distilleries

April 9, 2020
Published in: COVID-19

Staff of Silverback Distillery holding sanitizer bottles

It takes a village to battle a pandemic. Every day, healthcare workers use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect themselves, patients and others while providing care. Properly using PPE helps prevent the spread of infection.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased demand for PPE. This demand has diminished the supply, and the PPE shortages are creating tremendous challenges for hospitals and healthcare systems around the world. For Augusta Health, facing this challenge has been eased by the community that surrounds it.

The Augusta Health Foundation is coordinating the donations of supplies, food and financial support from the community.

"Augusta Health is incredibly grateful for the overwhelming response of our community to help our healthcare workers and our patients with donations of all kinds, but particularly those donations of Personal Protective Equipment. Our community's manufacturers, retailers and schools have been very generous in providing us with these needed supplies," says Tami Radecke, Executive Director of Augusta Health Foundation. "It's truly a reflection of a remarkable community."

And along with support from local businesses and school, some more unusual and creative partnerships and collaborations to produce PPE for Augusta Health have developed: two distilleries, a library, and a legion of home sewers. A focus on the contribution of two local distilleries:

So what’s the main ingredient in hand sanitizer? It’s alcohol.

And two local businesses who are expert in producing alcohol are Silverback Distillery and Ragged Branch Distillery. Both are providing product to Augusta Health.

sanitizer bottle with distillery barrels in background"We saw a need for hand-sanitizer in our community, so we leaped into it right away," says Lauren Weller, general manager and distiller at Silverback Distillery. "We had a supply of ethanol, which is the main ingredient. There are guidelines for sanitizer provided by WHO and the FDA, so we found the recipes the recommended and got to work. Making the sanitizer itself isn't complicated, but bottling it takes some time."

Alex Toomy, of Ragged Branch Distillery, adds, "We actually only make the high alcohol used to make the hand sanitizer. We've given away 70 gallons to essential organizations like Augusta Health and the Staunton Rescue Squad, and just made an additional 80 gallons."

Weller reports that Silverback has produced 400 gallons of hand sanitizer in three weeks, and has also donated it to essential organizations such as hospitals, doctors' offices, first responders, and hospice agencies.

"Augusta Health is on the forefront of this pandemic," she adds, "and we wanted to make sure their employees and patients were protected, so we were happy to provide it to them."

So in an unprecedented time and facing an unpredictable disease and while keeping an appropriate social distance, an entire village—a community of support—has risen to help each other through it.

We stand together, even when we are apart.

If you are interested in joining the village, please visit our Community Support page.