In the ongoing battle against the Coronavirus (COVID-19), select hospital systems have made a public call to sew face masks and put out guidance with their requirements.
There’s a lot of hubbub in the sewing community on sewing DIY face masks and whether or not they are effective / useful. So far, I have not shared or talked about this as I’ve been leery about disseminating incorrect / misleading information and want to be sure I’m using these platforms responsibly.
Typically, hospital and healthcare workers are not permitted to wear homemade / sewn personal protective equipment (PPE). Over the past year, I was a frequent visitor at Tampa General Hospital – where my stepfather Bernie had a double lung transplant. He was immunocompromised and we had to wear sterile, single-use PPE – gowns, gloves, and face masks. We put the gear on in the doorway, and had to toss it upon leaving the room, then don fresh PPE upon reentry.
That being said, updated CDC guidance does advise healthcare professionals to use “homemade masks” as a “last resort.”
“In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.“
Please note that homemade masks are NOT considered PPE and won’t protect you from contracting disease or illness. (More from the CDC)
For those of you reading this, it’s up to you whether or not you want to make homemade face masks for personal use. But if you are considering giving them to others or donating to hospitals and medical facilities, please keep a few things in mind.
I’ve been researching over the past few days to compile this list of hospitals and medical organizations officially calling on the public to sew face masks.
There is no one universal pattern / style / materials all of them are asking for. Each one has different and specific needs and requirements. Some have noted they want to work with local seamstresses preferably, or only want makers to use special materials provided by the hospital. Only a couple have stated that they will accept deliveries by mail.
First, determine which organization you will make masks for and have a plan for how you will get the donations to them. Your best bet is probably one in your area. If it’s not in your vicinity, double check to make sure the hospital will take in mail deliveries of mask donations. Then familiarize yourself with their specific guidance on making masks for them – acceptable fabrics, pattern / style, other requirements. Doing that could save you some headache, as you don’t want to make a bunch of masks only to find out the hospital can’t use them.
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Joann’s is getting in on the action – their details are not super specific on how exactly they will get masks to hospitals / medical facilities, but here is the press release. There are several different patterns sewists are encouraged to make.
“All open JOANN locations will serve as collection points for those making in their homes, and all items created by customers will be donated to help medical systems extend their dwindling supplies of protective equipment, and will be used at the hospital’s discretion.”
Here is a list of hospitals that are currently looking for donated masks – it will be updated as often as I’m able to:
*Disclaimer: This information is very fluid and subject to change at any time. Be sure to visit their websites for the latest guidance.*
Kittitas Valley Healthcare (WASHINGTON)
https://www.providence.org/lp/100m-masks (SEATTLE, WA)
*This hospital no longer needs volunteers to sew masks, as local companies stepped up to produce masks and face shields on a large scale. However, this site has helpful information on how they made face shields and surgical masks.
Your local hospital may not accept unsolicited donations of hand sewn masks, for instance I found this Facebook post…
If there are hospitals / organizations not on this list asking for sewn face masks, feel free to include a link to their own website with the information. I will ONLY be sharing information and resources put out directly from medical / health organizations, government agencies, and the CDC. (No news articles as I’ve found too many to be rather vague and contain no specifics or links to sources, which isn’t very helpful to us.)
Sunday evening at 7PM ET (3/22/20) I’ll be hosting a #selfquarantine live stream on the Sewing Report YouTube channel to chitchat and talk about all this craziness and recap how we can help by sewing face masks.