Naples business sews homemade masks for health care workers

Published: March 23, 2020 4:40 PM EDT
Updated: March 23, 2020 6:49 PM EDT

There’s a huge demand for masks to protect people from the coronavirus, especially in hospitals where doctors, nurses and staff are on the frontlines to help people who are sick.

Now, people are stepping up to sew masks and help stop the spread.

Lauren Johnston of Sew Easy has gone from teaching people how to sew to sewing masks for health care workers.

“Our sewing classes for kids are temporarily shut down but not for this project that we’ve started,” said Johnston.

She isn’t alone in helping during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m buying materials so I can make face masks for my sister who’s a nurse in an assisted living facility, and they are in desperate need of masks,” said Karen Kepner.

“I heard that there was a shortage and I’m sitting home and you know, I can keep myself busy like we’re all trying to and I decided this is a much better way of doing things,” said Chris Casmirri.

Lee Health, NCH Healthcare System and SalusCare, a mental health facility, all said they need masks to protect their employees.

“Our crisis unit, our emergency unit and residential units, those folks, the employees that work, can’t unfortunately do that in a telemedicine environment. Someone has to be there and be hands-on with our patients, so therefore, those extra masks are needed,” said Todd Cordisco, vice president of SalusCare.

Homemade masks aren’t perfect, but they’re better than nothing, and it’s an opportunity for people to help those on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight.

“I think everybody has to do whatever it is that they are decent at and volunteer their time and services and material if they have them,” said Casmirri.

“We have so much time on our hands and we’re all feeling a little down without anything to do and now we’re so busy,” said Johnston.

Lee Health said they’re accepting the donations at its foundation office. Just call ahead first – (239) 343-6950.

NCH said you can drop off masks at its business office at 2157 Pine Ridge Rd. in North Naples.

Sew Easy Naples has also created sew-at-home kits. Email them at [email protected] if you’d like one.

Jo-Ann Fabrics is also collecting donations for face masks. If you drop them off at a store, they’ll pass them along to home health nurses in the area. The company’s website has how-to guides.

The Centers for Disease Control said when N95 masks aren’t available, health care personnel can use homemade masks as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE), since their capability to protect is unknown. “Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.”