Fundraiser planned for long-time East Shelby firefighter battling serious infection

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 5 July 2022 at 1:41 pm

EAST SHELBY – Joe Newton has been an active member of the East Shelby Volunteer Company for 35 years, where he has always been ready to help any way he can.

Joe Newton

Now the fire company and Newton’s family and friends are stepping up to help him.

After not feeling well for some time, Newton was rushed to Rochester General Hospital on March 5, where he underwent emergency surgery for necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating infection.

During the first week in Rochester, Newton underwent surgery daily to remove the dead tissue, in hopes it would stop spreading. Although they caught it just in time, he is now left with several damaged organs, said his daughter Ayriel George. His kidneys, bladder and bowels have all been affected, leaving him to rely on medical devices to survive.

He has had six blood transfusions and now has a tracheostomy, a catheter, is on a ventilator and had to undergo a colostomy. He was on a feeding tube, which doctors were recently able to remove.

When Newton was able to leave Rochester General, he was transferred to a rehab facility in Erie, Pa., the only facility in the region who can care for patients in that condition on a ventilator. The family was told he would most likely be moved to a facility in Ohio to continue his rehab. And now George has reported her dad has been moved to Andover, Ohio.

All this is creating a monetary hardship on the family, and moving him further away to Ohio will just increase their challenge.

That’s when George got the idea to have a basket raffle, and the fire company agreed to let them use the fire hall. The benefit is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 13.

Provided photo: Ayriel George holds a poster promoting a fundraiser for her father, Joe Newton, who has been hospitalized since March with an infection. A basket raffle is planned for Aug. 13 at East Shelby Fire Hall, where Newton has been a member for 35 years.

Newton has been a member of the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company for 35 years, said Dave Green, a longtime member.

“Joe has been assistant chief and is currently vice president,” Green said. “He is always willing to help at any of our events and he loved to come and play cards.”

Green said Newton’s late twin brother Jim and their father were also longtime members of the fire company.

Joe has been a lifelong farmer, first working for his father Rich Newton Sr. and then for Alvin Smith. Joe, 64, retired in 2018 when Smith stopped farming.

George said her dad still has a long road ahead of him from being in a hospital bed and unable to walk, talk or eat for four months. He will also need several series of skin grafts to fully close the wound caused by the large amount of flesh the necrotizing fasciitis took.

Newton’s wife Elaine had been by his side until he was moved to Erie, and then she has had to stay home to go to work at the Arc.

“As you can imagine, they have a huge financial burden, from medical bills, gas and travel expenses and time Mom has had to take off work,” George said.

George said everyone is generously supporting the basket raffle. She already has a grill and fire pit donated. There will also be a 50/50 drawing and food and refreshments will be available to purchase.

Anyone wishing to help in any way – with a basket, an item to be raffled or cash donation can call or text George at (585) 813-9506.