With the spread of coronavirus confining more and more families to their homes, some local residents have decided to use the spare time to aid those working the front lines to fight the disease.
Rebecca St. Clair Yopp of Westlake has started a Facebook group for anyone wanting to help make masks for local health care workers.
The group, which is named Franklin County VA Covid Mask Makers, is making masks from home to be donated to area nursing homes and to nurses at Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital. The masks can be worn alone or over a worker’s N95 respirator mask.
“The masks do not prevent a person from catching coronavirus,” St. Clair Yopp said. “But, they can help prolong the life of the respirator and they offer a little extra protection. At this point, they (health care workers) are looking for anything to help protect them.”
St. Clair Yopp said doctors and nurses recently began reaching out to her on Facebook with a need for the masks. She said the workers expressed concern over the shortage of personal protection equipment for workers treating sick patients.
The pattern for the masks came from Deaconess Health Systems and can be used by anyone who knows how to sew.
They are made of two layers of 100% cotton fabric and elastic. One pattern uses elastic, which is placed behind the ears. The other pattern uses ties to tie behind the worker’s head. Some of the masks are made in such a way that respirator filters can be inserted.
St. Clair Yopp’s partner, Katie Bowles, is also making surgical caps.
“We are looking for anyone who would like to help make masks,” St. Clair Yopp said. “You make them; Katie and I will pick them up and distribute them to the places in need.”
Once delivered, the masks are cleaned and sanitized by the receiving facility. The masks are washable and should last through several washings, St. Clair Yopp said. More than 40 masks have already been made and more will be needed in the coming days and weeks.
“We are trying to keep them in the county,” St. Clair Yopp said. “Again, they will not prevent a person from contracting the virus, but they are definitely better than wearing nothing, and that’s what it’s come to for our workers.”
VDH West Piedmont District Population Health Manager Nancy Bell confirmed the masks are being used by CFMH.
“Yes, they are being accepted by Franklin Memorial Hospital,” Bell said. “They should be constructed due to regulations.”
Anyone wanting to join the effort – whether by sewing masks or by donating needed materials – can reach St. Clair Yopp on Facebook at Franklin County, VA Covid Mask Makers or at email@example.com.