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Former nurse in SWFL sews face masks for health workers locally, nationwide

Brave health care workers are putting their lives on the line to protect us from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve told you many hospitals are facing shortages of essential supplies such as face masks and a former nurse in Southwest Florida hopes to change that.

We spoke to former nurse Jackie Uecker Thursday, who is helping health care workers in Southwest Florida and beyond by making much-needed face masks for them.

The coronavirus is a huge threat to people like Uecker, who has an underlying medical condition.

“Four years ago, I had a kidney transplant,” Uecker said. “We’re doing FaceTime right now because I am compromised, quite compromised, and I am staying home.”

When she could feel helpless, Uecker is instead offering help, sewing desperately needed masks for health care workers.

“I just jumped on this and went, ‘Well, this is something I can do,” Uecker said. “I decided to see how many sewers are in our little community here.”

Because Uecker knows what nurses do.

“They have families of their own and they have to be very careful not to get sick,” Uekler said.

She has the life experience.

“Even if I can’t do that in the hospital, I’m doing it in this little small form,” Uecker said.

But the impact is huge, since Uecker is sewing nearly 40 masks a day. She said a shipment of masks is already on its way to a hospital in Pennsylvania.

“We’re continuing to make masks constantly,” Uecker said. “That’s all I do during the day, wherever they’re needed. Although, I know they are not a substitute in any way for the N95 masks that are being used by medical personnel.”

But, for now, Uecker will substitute her books or TV for a sewing machine and replace her free time with time for others in need.

“I will continue to do this until there’s not a need anymore,” Uecker said.

Uecker’s local community members are supporting her effort and donating materials to her, so she can continue her mission to support health care works responding directly to the coronavirus pandemic.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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