Volunteers across the Ozarks make masks for CoxHealth

Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 9:29 PM CDT
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With the number of cases of COVID-19 rising, local hospitals could eventually face critical shortages of protective gear like face masks.

Wednesday, people good at sewing picked up kits today that will allow them to make surgical masks for those on the front lines.

The organizer of the project tells KY3 a representative with CoxHealth reached out, asking them to use supplies from a previous project they collaborated with the hospital to make surgical masks.

800 kits were ready for pick up Wednesday and nearly 20,000 masks are expected to be made within the next week.

"I had no idea that the Ozarks area had this many people with sewing machines and that were willing to sew," said project organizer Deanna Carpenter.

Carpenter said CoxHealth reached out to her church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, last Thursday looking for help sewing masks.

"We reached out to our members through a Facebook group and they reached out to their friends and their friends and it spread and it spread," she said.

Carpenter said the materials being handed out are leftover from another service project for the hospital.

"They're breathable, but 100% waterproof and they have layers on them how they're designed," she said. "The design of it allows it to be autoclaved and sterilized without allowing virus and bacterias to get onto the mask after it's autoclaved, so they will be completely sterile when they use them."

Some volunteers picked up their packs for the first time Wednesday.

"I'm a nurse and I'm working at the front lines for screening visitors in the hospital and I've heard news that there's going to be a shortage and I want to help," said volunteer Kerry Scott.

Volunteer Mary Egan said she has put in more than 30 hours of work, getting 24 to 32 mask out of each kit she was given.

"It's really exciting to think that we, just a small army of women or sewers, and probably some men, can make a huge difference," Egan said.

She and her husband have filled their own home with surgical mask kits and wires, working diligently to help those on the front lines of this pandemic.

"I just think that it's really awesome and really very humbling to be able to be a part of helping something that's very worth while," Egan said.

The next opportunity for drop off and pick up is next Wednesday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on farm road 141.

Carpenter tells KY3 the masks being made from their kits will be used by the health care professionals once their supply of masks run out.

CoxHealth also has instructions on their website for people to use to make masks to donate. A representative with the hospital said they are very grateful for the community's help. Any masks sewn and donated using their template will be given out to patients.