After seeing a post sent to her by her daughter on Facebook, Goshen resident Chelli Sullivan knew she needed to put her foot to the pedal and get sewing.
The Facebook post was a call-out for all sewers to start making face masks for hospitals and first responders.
Sullivan said, “I’ve sewed for years.” And even though she is recovering from a broken shoulder and was limited to using one arm, she knew she had to pitch in and help.
For 12 years, Sullivan made color guard uniforms and flags for Goshen High School. She’s a pro, so masks would not normally be difficult.
“So, doing it with one arm and hand was a challenge,” she said. “I’ve self-quarantined for six weeks because of my shoulder.”
Her doctor told her she is doing better, and with her workplace shutting down until April 7, Sullivan thought, why not?
Her masks have elastic to go around the ears, two pleats (because she thought three would make them too small) and she’s lined hers with a white, fairly small-weave cotton. She said double-layering it will provide more protection. Sullivan also made a pocket to add a little piece of floral wire that can be squeezed to fit up tight against the nose. The pocket is made so the wire won’t poke through.
Sullivan made about 20 of those and walked them across the street to the fairgrounds, where the donations are being collected.
Currently, she is making masks that are more like a cup instead of straight. She is running low on elastic right now, but was given a bunch of hem tape or seam binding, which she can use to make masks that tie in the back.
Her tip for people who also want to make masks is to double stitch the elastic down so it doesn’t pull out.
Now that the word is out about the need, people are donating not only masks, but material to make the masks.
Factories that have shut down operations are donating their unused face masks, Elkhart County Emergency Management Director Jennifer Tobey said. “The hospital and first responders are in dire need of gowns as well. Anything they can loop over their neck.”
Emergency Management has some Tyvek suits that don’t fit the right way, but with some creative cutting they can make them work enough for some protection.
She is not asking for specifications on donated masks and gown. “Something is better than nothing,” Tobey said. Those who have donations, can drop them off at the fairgrounds, the Elkhart Police Department or at her warehouse behind the jail at 26861 C.R. 26.
A subgroup of Emergency Management, the Elkhart County Incident Management Team, is getting the word out that not only are hospitals in need of gowns and masks but so are first responders and nursing homes.
Ashleigh Newland, Elkhart City Communications training coordinator, said Monday material can be donated at the drop-off sites (mentioned by Tobey above). For those who might not be able to afford the material but can sew, they can pick up material, sew the masks then drop them off at the fairgrounds or police department. It’s a collaborative effort, Newland said.
“Initially they’re going to be used for first responders,” Newland said. “And then if there is an excess amount, the IMT will then decide which medical facilities in the county they will distribute them to such as nursing homes.”
The IMT team is tracking all of the supplies, and the public responders in the county are meeting as part of this team, Newland explained. The department heads of police, fire and EMS meet daily and are keeping track of all of the first responders’ health. Twice a day, first responders have to be checked to make sure they are healthy, Newland said. This group is also keeping track of the supplies.
“The supplies are being evenly distributed throughout the different agencies. They are already running into a shortfall,” Newland said. “We are doing the best we can to meet the demand right now.”
The masks being sewn are important because first responders will have the ability to wash and reuse them, she said.
“Right now,” Newland said, “there are a lot of first responders dealing with the public that can use more protection than what we have right now.”
The best materials to make masks with, she said, are 100% cotton sheets, pillowcases or T-shirts or a tightly woven fabric similar to that a person might have on hand. It can be backed with soft flannel or, again, something similar so it is soft against the wearer’s face. Elastic is in short supply now, Newland said, so they are accepting masks that tie in the back as well. So, both can be donated. “Either version we’re fine with,” she said.
For those interested in a tutorial, the Elkhart County 4-H Fair has posted one on its callout for sewers on Facebook.
In the online version of this article, you will find a pdf of step-by-step instructions on how to make a mask.
This website was also provided by emergency officials as the best materials to use: https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/best-materials-make-diy-face-mask-virus/?fbclid=IwAR16qiTbG7S8y2wAbpK___mBR61Zr8IvPRwP9ml438zE21dxBMEXJNJ0L3Q
For those interested in making masks and gowns, deliver all finished products to one of the following locations, seven days a week. Drop off locations are as follows:
Elkhart County 4-H Fair Office, Gate 3, 17746 C.R. 34, Goshen (24 hours a day)
Elkhart Police Department, 175 Waterfall Drive, Elkhart (7 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
Emergency Management, 26861 C.R. 26, Elkhart.
Parkview Health is partnering with businesses and volunteers to protect its supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Parkview officials, although Parkview currently has an adequate supply of face masks, face shields and other PPE, innovative measures are being taken to ensure the international shortage doesn’t impact local patients or caregivers.
“Parkview Health currently has a sufficient supply of PPE, thanks in large part to our centralized supply chain system to monitor and distribute materials,” said Donna Van Vlerah, senior vice president, support division, Parkview Health. “As an innovative organization, we will continue to look ahead and implement proactive solutions to maintain adequate stock. While we have planned well to ensure our caregivers and patients are protected, PPE is a precious commodity around the world. We’re grateful to partner with local companies and volunteers to bolster our long-term supply.”
To create a stockpile of cloth masks, which can be used as back-up to the main supply, Parkview is partnering with Hospital Laundry Service. HLS, along with a pre-selected group of volunteers, will be sewing clinical masks from a specific type of medical-grade material.
The clinical-grade masks will include nose pieces, fabricated and donated by Rea Magnet Wire and Schlemmer Brothers Metal Fabrication, which will help better protect front-line caregivers. These masks will only be used as a back-up option should Parkview Health exhaust its supply of preferred PPE.
Additionally, community volunteers are invited to sew sheet masks, which could be used by patients, visitors or non-clinical co-workers. The basic style sheet mask can help contain the user’s germs and mitigate spread to others.
Parkview officials said that to ensure safety and quality, Parkview Health has assembled mask-making kits, which include fabric, instructions and materials to create 100 masks. The mask-making kits require volunteers to have basic sewing skills, a sewing machine and thread.
Starting today, the mask-making kits can be picked up from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday at 3718 New Vision Drive, located on the Parkview Regional Medical Center campus.
Volunteers should turn on to New Vision Drive from Diebold Road. Signs will be posted to indicate where people can drive up to easily receive the kits without leaving their vehicle.
To manage the daily supply, mask-making kits are limited to one per person per day. At this time, the kits will be available for pick-up at the Fort Wayne location only. Kits will be available for pick-up at Parkview’s community hospital locations in the near future.
All completed masks can be returned to 3718 New Vision Drive or to a local Parkview community hospital. All masks will be laundered by HLS before they are distributed.
Masks made with other fabrics will also be accepted, but volunteers are encouraged to use the kits provided by Parkview Health to ensure safety and uniformity. Email Make-A-Mask@parkview.com with any questions on the mask-making kits.
Parkview Health has also been contacted by businesses offering to donate their supply of unused PPE, such as N-95 masks and gloves. These donations are appreciated, but must be dropped off at the Parkview Distribution Center, 1450 Production Road, Fort Wayne, to be vetted for safety before distribution.