Group sews homemade face masks for respiratory assessment clinic

A movement is underway to sew face masks for patients attending the newly established Respiratory Assessment Clinic on the Sunshine Coast.

Jennifer Stapleton, based in Davis Bay, and Christine Fearn of Halfmoon Bay launched the “Sewing masks for the respiratory clinic” Facebook Group on the weekend and as of March 24 have sewn, gathered and delivered more than 100 face masks to the clinic, which opened Monday.

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“We just wanted to make sure they had masks before they opened the respiratory clinic so they weren’t wasting any supplies they had for staff,” Stapleton told Coast Reporter

Faern and Stapleton received approval from the COVID Physician Task Force to sew the masks following specific sanitation protocols. Since the masks do not meet the N95 standard, which filters out 95 per cent of airborne droplets, they will not be used by health care professionals, but instead would be offered to anyone entering the new clinic. To prevent cross contamination, the patients are asked to take the mask they wear home with them.

In a March 23 press conference, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said while cloth masks aren’t known to be effective protection, “they can be effective in keeping your droplets in, so for those people who are having mild illness, need to seek medical attention or whatever, then those could be helpful.”

Instructions for how to sew the masks, as well as the sanitation procedures approved by the task force, can be found on the Facebook page. Once delivered to the clinic, the masks will be sanitized. Fabric must be tightly woven cotton.

The task force has not provided a quota for the masks. “Hopefully we don’t need as many as we do make,” said Stapleton. “But so far it’s not looking good,” she said, citing supply chain concerns.  

Those interested in contributing are instructed to join the group and read instructions provided for dimensions and sanitization. People are also encouraged to practise social distancing, to not sew in groups and not make unnecessary trips to stores to purchase materials.

Those who can’t access Facebook can call Kathy Worsfold at 604-741-1133 to coordinate pickup.

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