Hoosiers help with protective mask shortage by sewing them at home


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Across the nation, health care providers need personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks that help them stay safe while helping patients battle the coronavirus.

“The world changes every day, but we have a strong robust supply,” explains Wendy Horn, vice president of business development at Community Health Network.

Horn says despite being well stocked, they are constantly on the offensive to make sure they stay that way. She was named Executive Champion for the hospitals campaign for PPE donations since they have seen an outpouring of donations. The Black Hat Society in Irvington has been making masks for Community East. Of their roughly 140 members, about 25% of them can sew.

“Ive got a friend who’s a nurse who says, ‘Oh my gosh I need this!’ says Nancy Lynch of the Black Hat Society. “We are making them for all kinds of people.”

Masks come in two forms, medical, which in the COVID-19 case are N-95 masks, or barrier masks. The latter is for instances where coronavirus isn’t present.

“These are good for any kind of surgical purposes, stuff like that, but not for COVID-19 because that’s a tiny microorganism that can get through anything,” adds Lynch.

“Who really needs medical PPE? Who would be okay with barrier PPE? So we are monitoring it every day,” says Horn. “Our whole operational model is being re-thought as a result of COVID-19. We may have enjoyed using things before more generously than we do now.”

Barrier masks can be handmade at home. Their usage can spare people from purchasing medical masks that hospitals need, or donations of barrier masks can help hospitals save the medical masks for crucial times.

“We have quality and infectious disease standards that we have to adhere to,” said Horn.

On the website for PPE donations for Community Health Network, they show you how to donate to the cause. Get step-by-step directions on how to make a face mask here (opens as a PDF).

If you want to try to make your own mask, check out the link here from the Black Hat Society.

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