As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, doctors, nurses, and other front-line medical professionals are grappling with a shortage of supplies. Many are struggling to find the proper masks, gowns, and eyewear equipment they need to fight the virus without imperiling themselves. In a recent New York Times article, medical workers reported they are not only worried about exposing themselves to the virus, but also their families and others when they go home. An excerpt:
Rebecca Bartles, who heads infection prevention efforts for the Providence St. Joseph hospital chain based in Washington, said it was only a matter of days before some of the system’s 51 hospitals and 800 clinics run out of personal protective equipment — a situation that imperils the nation’s ability to respond to a pandemic still in its early stages.
“We’re on mile one of a marathon,” she said, adding, “what does mile 25 look like?”
Health care workers’ fears are not abstract. Two emergency room doctors in New Jersey and Washington have been hospitalized in critical condition, dozens of other health care workers across the country have already fallen ill and hundreds have been forced into quarantine.
“We are at war with no ammo,” said a surgeon in Fresno, Calif., who said she had no access to even the most basic surgical masks in her outpatient clinic and has a limited supply of the tight-fitting respirator masks in the operating room.
If you know how to use a sewing machine, you may be able to help by contacting Robert Jeffery, the Senior Vice President of Technical Design at Hickey Freeman. Jeffery is spearheading an effort to source, sew, and deliver homemade face masks and hospital gowns to medical professionals in the greater Rochester, New York area. On his blog, he writes:
Got a sewing machine? Got a serger? We need you to help fight the virus! We just left a meeting with Rochester General Hospital about making our front line doctors and nurses face masks and hospital gowns. We can’t reopen the Hickey Freeman factory for safety reasons so we need home sewers – you!
Please send your email address, name, phone number, and home address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will give more information as I get it. PLEASE SHARE WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW WHO CAN SEW
Those who know how to sew should reach out to Jeffery directly. He’s currently in the process of sourcing raw materials and putting together a game plan. Technical sewing patterns and video instructions will be posted at the “Work From Home” section of his website, which he intends to use as a hub for this effort. More information will be posted there and on his Facebook page, if you want to keep up with updates.