Throughout the week, on a national and state level, government officials have been trying to keep up with personal protective equipment (PPE) demands at local hospitals.
With at least four decades of sewing under her belt, it’s all hands on deck for Carol Bruess in De Pere as she makes dozens of face masks. She is also helping coordinate a local Facebook group ‘Masks for Green Bay’, with dozens of volunteers looking to do the same thing– ease the medical supply shortage from home.
“I’m hoping that we can streamline the process so that we can take the burden of all the phone calls from volunteers that the hospitals are getting. Those people can instead contact u, so that the hospitals are freed up so that people know exactly what to sew,” said Augustyn.
“People can contact us. We can hopefully keep people from wasting their time making things that aren’t needed and also keep people from wasting the hospital’s time with all these questions,” said Augustyn.
“They have their infectious disease specialist looking at prototypes already made, and say, “Okay lets use this pattern because we believe this will give our people the greatest protection’.”
“Some nurses are putting coffee filters in as filters. Others people are using vacuum bags, while others are using furnace filters, just to try to add one extra layer of protection for themselves,” said Augustyn.
But even though the home-made masks won’t replace the medical-grade N95 masks, they both believe the home-made masks still serve a purpose.
“That’s kind of our goal in this is. Let’s get these masks being used by the people who don’t need the N95, so that the N95’s can be saved for those right on the front lines that are putting themselves in harm’s way,” said Augustyn.
“It has been incredible to see in a time of crisis, where this community and really all over Wisconsin, people are coming together to say, “What can I do? What can I offer to help those people who are helping all of us on the front lines?” said Bruess. “We all have something to offer.”
If you are not a sewer, Bruess and Augustyn say you can offer to buy fabric, cut fabric, track down elastic or offer to safely transport the finished product to those who need them most. The Facebook groups are called ‘Masks of Green Bay’ and ‘Wisconsin Face Mask Warriors.’