GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCSC) - Tidelands Health is issuing an urgent request for the help of those in the community who can sew.
The hospital has thousands of never-used N-95 respirators from H1N1 virus a few years ago. But they say the elastic in those masks is no longer durable and they need new elastic sewn onto these masks before they can be used.
The N-95 respirator is an important piece of personal protective equipment that prevents airborne and bloodborne pathogens from getting inside.
"The masks are really important. They're surgical masks that you can use when you enter the patients room that has the COVID virus or that is under investigation to see if they have the COVID virus," Chief Nursing Officer Pamela Maxwell said.
These masks are in high demand across the country for medical professionals to stay healthy while caring for patients with the novel coronavirus or who could potentially have it. The masks are also put on patients to prevent the spread of the virus.
Tidelands is asking the community to contact them to find out how you can get the equipment and get to work. Tidelands will provide the masks, the thread, and the elastic.
"So, if you're doing a respiratory treatment, or if you're causing some sort of treatment where a patient is going to cough or sneeze, or if you're doing unfortunately, CPR, then you're going to need this N-95 respirator," Maxwell said. "So it's life-saving."
Maxwell says an experienced sewer could sew the pallets and thread onto the masks in less than 15 minutes per mask.
You can find out where to get the supplies and how to help here: https://www.tidelandshealth.org/coronavirus/sewing-volunteers-needed/.
This would extend the use of masks for weeks at Tidelands four hospitals, which are in Georgetown, Little River, and Murrell's Inlet.
The Tidelands staff says they have no doubt that the community can get this done for them. Within the first hour of sending out the release Tuesday, they had over 100 people reach out asking how they can help.
“We live in a fantastic community where people are just in-tuned to what the hospital needs and they appreciate the people that work at the hospital," Maxwell said. "They appreciate that we’re here. So they really want to step up and doing something. We have great volunteers.”
Maxwell added that an experienced sewer could sew the pallet and elastic onto the respirator in less than 15 minutes per mask.
The Tidelands staff is reiterating the need for N-95 masks, not cloth masks. While cloth masks can sometimes be helpful, the hospital staff says the N-95 masks are what can protect against the Coronavirus.