Local health centers turn to fabric masks amid shortage

Julie Lewis | The Daily Star Karen Greenleaf sews a mask at her home in Laurens on Tuesday.

In light of a nationwide shortage of disposable face masks, local health care centers are requesting donations of reusable fabric masks made by community members.

‘“While fabric masks are not a substitute for health care grade respirator-type masks, this is a coordinated effort to use the fabric masks to extend the life and supply of the N95 respirator masks,” said Kelly Rudd, Bassett’s pharmacy director. “These respirator masks are in critical short supply nationally, and provide the best protection for our health care workers, patients and community.”

Laurens resident Karen Greenleaf said she started sewing masks this week after reading about the need online.

“It hits close to home,” said Greenleaf, who used to work as a scrub technician at Fox Hospital. “I know what the need is out there. It’s hard not to be able to do anything.”

“I just feel like I need to be doing something to help,” she continued. “It’s a production I hope will go somewhere.”

Greenleaf said until recently she was a caregiver to her terminally ill husband, Wyatt, who is staying at a nursing home in Boston. Because in-person visitation is not allowed, the couple has been communicating via FaceTime.

“It’s a horrible situation,” she said. “I’m on edge.”

Greenleaf said she typically spends her free time making quilts, but switched to making masks to help occupy her time.

“I would imagine there’s a lot of quilters out there doing this,” she said.

Greenleaf said the fabric was donated by the husband of her late friend, Patricia Ehlers, who passed away in December 2018.

“This is what she would be doing,” Greenleaf said. “I know she would.”

Handmade fabric masks donated to Bassett Medical Center will be disinfected for repeated use throughout the pandemic in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, according to Rudd.

Masks donated to UHS facilities will immediately be laundered and processed, according to a media release.

Bassett officials estimated that the network will need around 20,000 fabric masks. Both organizations said they will donate excess masks to other medical centers in need.

Instructions, including patterns for making the masks, can be found at  https://www.bassett.org/covid-19/protective-fabric-masks. *

UHS recommends using a pattern courtesy of The Turban Project, available at nyuhs.org/about-us/whats-new/2020/uhs-welcoming-fabric-masks-from-community

Completed protective fabric masks may be dropped off or mailed to Bassett’s warehouse at 26 Grove St. Cooperstown, NY 13326. If mailing, please put “attention: fabric masks.” Other drop-off locations will be added at a later date, according to a media release.

Friends of Bassett is collecting monetary donations at 607-547-3928 or friendsofbassett.org. Within the online donation form, select the “other” designation.

Bassett is also seeking donations of preshrunk 100% cotton fabric with a tight weave; preferably white, but patterns and colors other than red are acceptable, and elastic cord or ⅛-inch elastic ribbon, according to a media release.

Masks may also be dropped off at the following UHS locations:

• UHS Delaware Valley Hospital Community Pharmacy, 1 Titus Place, Walton, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday.

• UHS Occupational Medicine, 54 E. Main Street, Norwich, from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

• UHS Vestal Orthopedics Building, Vestal Parkway, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday.

Email UHSFoundation@nyuhs.org to arrange for delivery.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

*changed at 8:25 a.m. March 26 to correct the web address.

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