When RN Mike Benson learned he would need to shave his 10-year-old beard, he didn’t hesitate during this COVID-19 crisis. His safety and the wellbeing of his patients were at stake.
But before the Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital ICU nurse put the razor to his cheek as a COVID-19 precaution, he decided to have a little fun for a good cause.
“I figured if I had to make a sacrifice, it should be worth something,” said Benson, who’s worked at Roper St. Francis Healthcare for six years.
His wife’s uncle passed away from Alzheimer’s, and his wife’s cousin was in the midst of a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association, ironically one that involved her cousin and his friends growing beards.
Benson challenged his friends and family to donate to his wife’s cousin fundraiser then vote on the type of beard he would shave before going clean shaven.
In the end, Mike raised $200 for Alzheimer’s, and he and his wife matched the donations by giving $200 to the Lowcountry Food Bank, too. The winning local dinner picked him to shave a Van Dyke beard, which includes a moustache and goatee with all hair on the cheeks shaved. Benson also threw in a six pack of Corona beer and some toilet paper.
Benson felt good about being able to raise $400 just from saving his beard, which he needed to do because he works in the ICU and is a member of the Rapid Response Team. He doesn’t always know where he’s going to be working and so needs to be able to use whatever personal protective equipment is available.
“I’m not upset about it,” he said. “As much as I wanted to complain, it’s just common sense. In my job, there’s no way for me to keep the beard and be protected.”
Benson said his wife, who never had seen him without a beard, keeps looking at him funny, as do some of his colleagues. He said he’s still not sure how he feels about it.
“The jury still is out,” he said.
Regardless, he said it’s been a fun experience and he’s glad others have gotten “a good laugh at my naked face.” His manager, Sadie Rockers, agree and said his actions gave the entire hospital ICU team a boost.
“Florence Nightingale would be so proud, as I am, to have Mike on our team!” Rockers said.