Along with all of the panic surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19), health professionals are currently dealing with a dire lack of the face masks they need in order to treat patients without endangering themselves.
First, it’s important to note that the CDC only lists N95 respirator masks as effective protection against the small particles that spread the virus. Other masks, like surgical ones or those made from fabric, can only filter out larger particles and other bigger contaminants.
Unfortunately, several hospitals are already running low on N95 masks and are waiting on back orders to replenish their stock — all while continuously being flooded with newly confirmed cases each day. In order to make sure the doctors and nurses who are specifically treating COVID-19 patients have access to however many N95 masks are still available, healthcare providers are requesting donations of homemade masks to use for other types of treatment.
The CDC also claims that these DIY masks can be used as a “last resort” while treating COVID-19 patients, but should be used with caution and “in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.”
The Deaconess Health System, based in Indiana, is one of the many medical organizations currently asking for help from the public with homemade mask donations. “Prior to modern disposable masks, washable fabric masks were standard use for hospitals. We will be able to sterilize these masks and use them repeatedly as needed,” Dawn Rogers, MSN, RN, FNP-C, at Deaconess explains. “While it’s less than ideal, we want to do our best to protect our staff and patients during this pandemic.”
You can find a list of more hospitals and medical organizations currently looking for cloth mask donations on DonatePPE.org. And before you start sewing, take a look at the tutorial below shared by Deaconess:
If you’re someone who loaded up on N95 masks to protect yourself or loved ones, you should know they are really only necessary for those who have already tested positive for the virus or are showing symptoms of other illnesses. They will do more good in the hands of doctors and nurses right now, so please consider donating any unused N95 masks you have through programs like Mask Match and FindTheMask. Other personal protective equipment like nitrile gloves, goggles, and face shields are also being accepted through places like the aforementioned DonatePPE.org and PPE Link.
It’s more important than ever for us to all work together to stay healthy and properly cared for by those who can help us the most.