The Coast News Group
A doctor at Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, holds hydration packets produced by Escondido-based Vitalyte. Courtesy photo
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Escondido hydration company launches campaign to help health care workers

ESCONDIDO — When Sarah McClure, a nurse in hard-hit New York, saw her co-workers struggling — she reached out to an Escondido business for help.

Vitalyte, a hydration company founded by marathon runner Bill Gookin 40 years ago, happily responded to her request. The company donated more than 600 hydration packets to help the employees at Lincoln Medical Center in New York to replenish their bodies as they care for the tens of thousands of people infected by the COVID-19 disease.

With the help of the public, the company hopes to help more health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are doing our part and are so happy to have helped those brave doctors, nurses and other staff in the Bronx,” Vitalyte Chief Operating Officer Evan Lucas said. “Now, we are focused on helping many others across the country including in our hometown of San Diego. We stand together with these amazing men and women.”

Vitalyte is asking the public to make donations, which will then be matched by the company, to help as many health care workers as possible.

Milena Glusac, vice president of marketing for Vitalyte, said the product easily caters to the hardworking health care workers. She said the company’s product can be poured into a 16-ounce water bottle before drinking to help refuel the body.

“Those on the front lines require both mental and physical sharpness to be at their best,” Glusac said. “Being dehydrated affects intellectual acuity and physiological response. The brain is the most sensitive organ in the body. By the time you have become dehydrated as little as 1% of your body weight, your mental reaction and alertness has suffered.”

Those “key functions are vital for health responders when every minute matters while saving lives,” Glusac said.

McClure in New York echoed Glusac’s comments, noting how difficult it was to hydrate her body prior to getting a donation from Vitalyte.

“Our employees are having to wear masks and respirators 100% of the time to avoid getting the illness,” McClure said. “Every night I go home so exhausted and dehydrated because I can no longer drink fluid through the 12-hour shift due to risks of contamination. I have used Vitalyte in the past at summer camps where dehydration was a problem.”

Glusac also noted that sometimes drinking more water, without intaking the necessary vitamins, can cause hyponatremia.

“This is a very dangerous situation in which ingesting too much water leads to a decrease in serum sodium concentration,” Glusac said. “Essentially blood sodium levels fall to life-threatening levels. These are all extreme scenarios but point to the importance proper hydration is to one’s health and physical function.”

With the help of the public, the company can help health care workers from risking their own well-being while caring for COVID-19 patients. The company said it will not send unsolicited donations to hospitals but is asking anyone who participates to contact their friends or acquaintances in the medical field to send the donation.

“During these difficult times we can have some peace of mind that those affected by the pandemic have access to the product they need,” Glusac said. “Therefore, our entire staff is happy to put in the extra hours and effort during these times because we know it is making a difference.”

Glusac said Vitalyte doesn’t have a cap on how much it plans to donate and hopes to help as much as possible.

“We’d like to encourage everyone to contribute to what is a worldwide effort to combat COVID-19,” Glusac said.  “Volunteer where needed if you can. Thank a health care worker when you can. And if you can donate, donate what you can.”

For more information about Vitalyte or to donate to the cause, go to