Life in Montgomery county has become increasingly quiet after Governor Tom Wolf placed a stay-at-home order on the area last week. Since the announcement, Wolf has extended the order to 32 additional counties.
Yet, inside, that quiet easily fades away to the drone of a sewing machine. Dresher, Mont. Co. resident Debby Dennis is spending her time in quarantine operating a sewing machine to help local healthcare workers on the frontlines.
Using leftover fabric from crafts and projects, Dennis is making masks to donate to local hospitals to help with personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, which are occuring nationwide.
Healthcare workers around the country are struggling to protect themselves due to these shortages, and, in some cases, are being forced to ration, reuse, share, or even work with patients without PPE.
Dennis explained she started making the masks after hearing from friends that had already started the process. After making them, however, she had to figure out where to donate them.
“I have a friend who works at the University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian [Medical Center] ER, and she said ‘I’ll take them to work!’ because they need them there, they don’t have enough,” she said.
Dennis also has two relatives working in two separate local hospitals, who she plans on donating masks to in the coming weeks.
Each mask takes about 15 minutes to make. In addition to fabric, which serves as the main protective covering, Dennis repurposes a host of other materials. She has used elastic and even shoe laces to make sure they can be fastened to the healthcare worker’s face.
Her friends and family in the healthcare industry suggested using HEPA filters, typically found in vacuum cleaner bags, to mimic the filter used in N-95 surgical masks for protection.
“You can cut the pieces out of the vacuum cleaner bag and then you just stick them inside,” she said. “It’s an extra layer of protection.”
Dennis so far has made over 30 masks, and estimates she’ll be able to make up to 200 with her current fabric supply. She suggests for anyone interested in making these masks to watch a few Youtube tutorials before starting.