COVID-19 continues to dominate every aspect of life, but community members in the county are fighting back by providing health care workers with the masks and gowns necessary to continue their work.
Sylvia Ross, the director of Blue Mountain Home Health and Hospice, said that 70 people — from local community members to those who live out of town and have family working at the hospital — are making masks or gowns for the Blue Mountain Hospital.
So far, the hospital received a few hundred masks, and Ross said the hospital is distributing them as fast as they come.
“It is these moments that matter most in this community, and to the United States right now. As we continue to see a national shortage of (personal protective equipment) in conjunction with a pandemic, we are relying on these great people to keep us safe,” Ross said. “I have had tears in my eyes at times sorting and counting these masks and imagining all of the time and late nights at sewing machines that so many people have selflessly poured out.”
Jessica Moore has provided a little over 120 masks for the hospital.
“I own Backwoods Soap Company, and I teach knitting classes, and all of that is shutdown now,” Moore said. “I am not a seamstress at all, and I haven’t had my sewing machine out in probably three years.”
Moore reached out to the hospital, and they provided her with a pattern for a simple face mask that can be used to go over the N-95 respirators. This would allow the N-95 mask to be used multiple times.
“I think people are feeling helpless, but as small as this may be, it at least has given me something that I can do to help health care workers,” Moore said.
Moore is not the only one in her home working on masks. Her husband and two kids have helped in any way that they can.
“One of the gals, Katie Hensley, at the hospital asked me if my daughter sews and if she has been sewing too,” Moore said. “I told her that every time I stand up she asks me, ‘Can I sew this quick little bag?’ because she has been making little bags from the scraps not used for making masks.”
Hensley let Moore’s daughter borrow her sewing machine, and now the daughter is sitting beside her mom, helping when she can or working on her own little projects.
While Moore receives a great amount of support at home, the community has also helped by providing donations and working together to provide masks and gowns.
When Moore started sewing masks, she thought she had a good stash of supplies but burned through her inventory quickly. A common item shortage has been the elastic bands used to secure to the ears of the person wearing the mask.
She received donations from members in the community who donated fabric and elastic for her.
“Getting supplies has been a challenge, but people donating them have been awesome.” Moore said. “I am thankful for our health care workers and everyone in our community.”
As the need for masks remain persistent, Moore and volunteers are working hard to meet the demand for health care workers at Blue Mountain Hospital.
“I always find joy standing back and looking at the big picture of how strongly this community pulls together when there is a need. Not surprisingly, we had a need, and our community does what our community does: rose to the occasion,” Ross said.
Email Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information on how to help.