KOMO News

Volunteers Are DIYing Hospital Masks From Craft Supplies Amid Shortages

Ryan Ford 19 Mar 2020

With lifesaving equipment dwindling for frontline workers in the face of a pandemic, medical suppliers are ramping up production and the national stockpile is starting to distribute what they can, but for many hospitals, it's simply not coming fast enough.

That's especially true in Washington State, where the first coronavirus case in the United States was reported, and which just passed the 1,000-case mark. Sixty-six people have died of the disease in Washington so far.

Dealing with so many cases has put Washington in all-hands-on-deck mode.

Facebook | Providence St. Joseph Health

"It's impossible to deny. We are in a global health pandemic," Erika Henry, a state Health Department official told KOMO News. "There are resource shortages we simply cannot fill faster than the medical supply chain can replenish."

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And so, to try to combat those shortages, volunteers have turned to DIY.

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At Providence St. Joseph Health in Renton, hospital workers and volunteers alike have been gathering materials like marine-grade vinyl, foam strips, double-sided tape, and elastic bands from local craft stores to make their own personal protective equipment, starting with surgical masks and face shields.

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Masks and face shields are the most critically needed supplies for the hospital at the moment.

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"So these face shields offer protection from spray and splatter," said Jennifer Bayersdorfer, Providence's senior vice president and chief quality officer, who also volunteered to help make the equipment.

"We have some facilities that are very close to running out," explained Rebecca Bartles, an epidemiologist with Providence.

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The hospital staff don't relish being in this position, but they're determined to do the best they can all the same.

Facebook | Providence St. Joseph Health

"It's both frightening, and yet at the same time, galvanizing around a common cause," said Bayersdorfer.

Governor Jay Inslee says that the government is still trying to get the supply chain up to speed. "We are in the midst of procuring a whole host of medical equipment from ventilators to masks to gloves through the private distribution system," he said.

Information about the coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing and Diply is committed to providing the most recent data as it becomes available. Some of the information in this story may have changed since publication, and we encourage readers to use online resources from CDC and WHO to stay up to date on the latest information surrounding COVID-19.

h/t: KOMO News

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