As frontline caregivers up and down the state call out for PPE, Boothbay Region Health Center is orchestrating a volunteer effort for local sewers to make and donate washable cloth facemasks.
Board of Directors President Patricia Seybold explained, “There are two types of masks: those that can be used by health care professionals and those that can be used by anyone if they have to go out.” Masks suitable for professionals, said Seybold, can be worn over other PPE. “They have a pocket for filters to be inserted, and will prolong the life of the PPE, which is very hard to come by now.”
The simpler masks are not designed to encourage people to go out, said Seybold. “Our goal is to get everyone on the peninsula: a) to stay in their homes; but b) to wear face masks when they do have to go out for necessary shopping or doctors’ visits or to help others.”
Sewers are encouraged to look online for patterns. If wondering which type to make, the preference at this time would be for masks that have multiple layers of tightly knit washable fabric, a pocket for a filter, and are large enough to fit over an N95 facemask, said Seybold. Regardless of type, all masks should have distinctly different fabrics for the front and back layers so the user can be sure to wear it the correct way around every time.
Masks suitable for professionals will be going to local frontline healthcare workers, said Seybold. “As people drop them off we’ll sort them by type, launder them, and distribute them appropriately with instructions for washing.”
The Health Center’s Clinical Care Manager Robyn Ham added, “The masks are going out as quickly as they come in. Patients are going home with maybe one for themselves and one for an immediate family member. So we can always use more. I just hope everyone’s remembering to wash them after each use. That’s really important.”
On March 30, Ham continued, the Health Center received some extraordinary donations. “Boothbay Region Lions Club gave us a very generous donation to help purchase PPE, which is a huge relief to us all; Lincoln County Dental donated some masks for patients to wear while they’re at the Center; Hodgdon Yachts helped us find a supplier of Tyvek suits; and the Town of Boothbay Public Works and Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens both donated some N95 masks. I had no doubt that the Boothbay region would rally together to help support the Health Center!”
Drop-off and pick-up for masks is at Boothbay Region Health Center in the Meadow Mall. The Center remains open for medical visits, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m.