The new Wild West – Procuring PPE

Although it has just been 5 weeks since the United States went into quarantine, it seems much longer for hospitals and clinics that are not only trying to care for both Covid and non-Covid patients but also attempting to secure supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for their health care workers. Hospitals have first priority for masks, leaving clinics woefully under-supplied. Luckily, I am part of a large group of women who volunteer their sewing skills to create reusable menstrual pads for distribution in developing world countries. We repurposed the cotton used in the construction of the Days for Girls menstrual kits to make fabric masks. Other groups throughout the city had the same idea and soon elastic for the ear loops was difficult to obtain.

Ingenuity during this pandemic has been incredible and others have shared their solutions via the internet. The University of Florida designed a mask using recycled blue surgical wrap, normally thrown away after it has been used to protect sterilized instruments. This material is flexible, 99% impermeable to pathogens and can be re-sterilized multiple times for reuse. Our sewing group moved from fabric masks to the blue wrap material without a hitch in the process and soon had constructed 500 masks for both clinic and hospital use. Since then we have welcomed five additional sewing groups and will have finished 2500 masks by the end of this week. The masks are being used at both North Memorial Hospital and Voyage Healthcare clinics. As shipments of mass produced surgical masks make their way to our healthcare businesses, we hope to redirect the energy of all these seamstresses and provide masks to local organizations who may need them in the coming months.

9 thoughts on “The new Wild West – Procuring PPE

  1. lexklein says:

    Wow – that’s awesome! I started out making masks for nurses, then for immediate family, then friends of family, then neighbors, etc. After several dozen, I ran out of elastic, so I’ve been improvising, too. Those elastic bands that soccer girls wear to hold their hair back are still flying under the radar (at least at my neighborhood Walgreen’s), and they make great ear loops when cut into pieces! Your solution is much more professional and your group much bigger, but I felt semi-productive being able to sew a decent number of masks while hiding out at home.

    • You can reach out to your local surgery center or hospital and ask for donations of the used blue surgical wrap. Pattern and instructions are available on the Univ of Florida website under Covid. The masks can be sterilized in a home oven @ 170 degrees for 30 mins.

  2. Lorie Hoekstra says:

    I started out making fabric masks and then moved to making these for North Memorial and Voyager. I love the idea that we are repurposing throw away material, that they are less permeable making them more protective and easier to make than the cloth ones. Thanks Leslee for providing this opportunity!

  3. Erika N says:

    In a horrible situation, this is awesome!!!! That is amazing, all those masks! What a great contribution all those people sewing, their time they are giving and those that they are helping to protect! Love it!

  4. Thanks for sharing such an amazing blog. I must say you are doing a great job. Keep doing such hard work. Your blogs are really very informative. Keep posting! Good Luck for your upcoming updates.

  5. This is so beautiful, it is really great when people are helping others out there in this world. I love what you are doing. Really proud of u. Keep posting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s