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It Takes a Village: Mask Makers

April 8, 2020
Published in: COVID-19

Collage of sewers from a local church

It takes a village to battle a pandemic. Every day, healthcare workers use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect themselves, patients, and others while providing care. Properly using PPE helps prevent the spread of infection.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased demand for PPE. This demand has diminished the supply, and the PPE shortages are creating tremendous challenges for hospitals and healthcare systems around the world. For Augusta Health, facing this challenge has been eased by the community that surrounds it.

The Augusta Health Foundation is coordinating the donations of supplies, food and financial support from the community.

"Augusta Health is incredibly grateful for the overwhelming response of our community to help our healthcare workers and our patients with donations of all kinds, but particularly those donations of Personal Protective Equipment. Our community's manufacturers, retailers and schools have been very generous in providing us with these needed supplies," says Tami Radecke, Executive Director of Augusta Health Foundation. "It's truly a reflection of a remarkable community."

And along with support from local businesses and schools, some more unusual and creative partnerships and collaborations to produce PPE for Augusta Health have developed: two distilleries, a library, and a legion of home sewers. A focus on the home-sewing mask makers:.

An army of home sewers battling the pandemic.

masks made by St. Johns ChurchLiterally hundreds of local sewers have been hand-sewing masks for Augusta Health and other essential healthcare agencies. The Sewing Ministry of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Waynesboro is one of many church sewing groups who have mobilized to sew with a purpose. So far, the Ministry has made and donated more than 600 masks from both standard fabric and surgical drape provide by the Augusta Health Foundation.

The Sewing Ministry, led by Judy Charles, usually makes banners for the church, altar cloths and vestments for the priests and deacons, baptismal drapes, quilts and lap blankets. After learning about the need for masks, though, Judy organized the group with a new purpose.

"There are about 20 of us working on the masks, and that includes both sewers, those who don't sew but cut out the fabric, and our husbands bending the wires we need," says Mary Fannin, one of the Ministry's members. "Judy read about the need online, and we started working about a week before we saw the post from the hospital."

They've made the masks from surgical drape for Augusta Health, but also have given some cotton masks to other essential workers such as the Waynesboro Police and rescue squads.