Masks, so many hospitals face looming shortages of this critical supplies and others like ventilators and respirators. Fortunately, volunteers across the country step up to the plate every day. People with sewing machines are using their skills to create much-needed masks for hospitals across the nation. They can’t replace the N95 respirators. But they can help prolong the life of those devices so many nurses and doctors can conserve them.
People across the U.S. have formed sewing groups on Facebook and other social media platforms. There, they share patterns they think will work best for medical workers. Equipped with sewing machines and mountains of fabric, they get to work, creating thousands of masks for hospitals desperately low on medical supplies.
Even big retailers have helped during the crisis. Last week, JOANN Fabrics and Craft Stores put a video tutorial on YouTube. On it, they demonstrate how to make face masks at home. They encouraged people to drop the masks off at their stores. From there, they will pay to deliver them to hospitals in need.
With suppliers not able to keep up with the demand of the traditional N95 masks, people across the country are trying to bridge the gap. However, experts say that they are not ideal for preventing the spread of the virus, and medical workers aren’t using them on a large scale yet. Even so, the study cited shows that they stop fifty percent of contamination. And the strapped hospitals will likely need to bend the rules a little during this difficult time and take what they can get.
People Across the Country Are Sewing Masks for Hospitals Facing Shortages
St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, posted on its website that they have enough supplies currently, but want to prepare for a possible surge in cases in the future. The hospital asked the community for donations of PPE (personal protective equipment) in addition to supplies for making masks.
A resident of nearby town Easton, Pennsylvania, Sheri Yeisley, agreed to help the hospital meet future demand. Health officials asked her if she could make between 10,000 and 15,000 masks.
Facebook Groups Form to Meet Demands for Masks
Knowing she would need a lot of help to meet this demand, she posted a Facebook Live video to explain how to sew the masks using guidelines from another hospital’s website. Some of her Facebook friends, including some elementary and high school friends, said they would start making masks for hospitals in their cities.
While Yeisley and her friends had enough fabric to create the masks, they needed more elastic for the tie. So, Yeisley reached out to a local swimsuitcompany that donated 3,600 yards of elastic. This volume would be enough to make 10,000 masks. She distributed the supplies to volunteers who agreed to help make masks for local hospitals.
Yeisley said she knows a lot of people who work in health care and want to keep them safe while they work to save our lives. She said she realized that if they get sick, no one will be able to take care of us. She’s trying to do whatever she can to help until hospitals receive more N95 masks.
And, in Atlanta…
Across the country in Atlanta, groups of sewers and workers from local fabric stores have created a Facebook group to coordinate efforts in creating masks. Called Sewing Masks for Atlanta Hospitals, the group has received requests from 15 different healthcare facilities that have asked for 3,000 facemasks total.
While most hospitals have enough supplies to last them for a while, they want to prepare for the future and have extra masks as a backup. Some smaller facilities have already started to run out of PPEs. One of the volunteers in the group, Christine Cox, said her son has been helping her make masks for hospitals in the area. Coordinators in the group are even bringing materials to homes that need more supplies to make masks.
Once the masks are ready, they’re shuttled to neighborhood drop off points. From there, the facemasks must go to a sorting area and undergo a quality control process. The masks have to be double-layered and made from cotton to be used in hospitals. The Atlanta Facebook group gained 3,000 new members in just a few days. In fact, some people are creating dozens of masks per day.
Final Thoughts: Do You Know a Hero Making Masks?
Do you know anyone in your area helping to create facial coverings or other medical supplies for hospitals? Please drop their name in the comments!