Medical providers are finding themselves limited on medical supplies and are turning to the community for help.
Jodi Koenig, of Geronimo Village Pediatrics, put a call out to friends, family, clients and residents for help in making masks.
After seeing some other do-it-yourself post, Koenig began searching for ways to make her own mask.
“I had been Googling, thinking I could make my staff some,” she said. “I was Googling thinking how I could make us an N95 if I can’t put masks on the parents or the patients coming into the office. With my research, I thought it would be better if it were sewn so that they can be washed and reused.”
Little did she know how much people would want to pitch in.
“I put the post out … and then it just really exploded,” she said. “I had people texting me calling me, sending me messages saying ‘I’ll do it.’ I had several individuals and a quilters guild respond.”
Deana Henk, of the Guadalupe Healthcare Network, said donations of homemade masks can help keep doctors’ supplies from dwindling while companies work to get more out to medical providers.
“People like me who aren’t in contact with patients probably need to start wearing masks to work,” she said. “I can take that mask with me all day, do what I need to do. Having those cloth masks will help. If I’m using a cloth mask all day long, then the medical staff can use the regular masks for their needs when they need them.”
However, she said they aren’t for everyone, which is why the N95 masks and surgical masks are still a necessity.
“When you’re working with people who are actively sick or coughing, you need a regular surgical mask,” she said. “If they did procedures, they would need a surgical mask or N95s.”
During her searches, Koenig found a design she said was simple and had a pocket for the healthcare providers to put a filter in it.
“There is a need for providers in the offices to protect them from inhalation of the particles, which is where the N95-like comes from,” she said. “Then there is also the simple masks for people who are coming into the offices, or for people going out into the public to prevent their secretions, and keep the virus from potentially spreading.”
Koenig said she is blown away by the outpouring of support.
“We’re seeing the neighbor helping neighbor, stepping up, donating food, wanting to sew masks,” she said. “They want to help. That has been amazing. I think God gives us all gifts and if we can use them to help someone else, what better way than in such a tough time right now.”
The call out for the sewn masks is just one of the many ways the community can get involved, Henk said.
“Every little bit helps,” she said. “We’re trying to be proactive and innovative.”
Henk is asking local manufacturing businesses and skilled professions for donations of the supplies they might use on job sites to help the doctors in both Guadalupe and Comal counties.
“What I’m looking for is to give them to the physicians and their staff,” she said. “The physicians’ supply is quickly dwindling because they are doing procedures, but they can give these to their office staff people who are trying to do things, but not get sick either.”
Some local businesses have already stepped up in big ways, Henk said.
“Continental gave us a nice donation of masks and smocks,” she said. “The doctors were so thankful. Some other businesses have shifted their gears to help out as well. Minigrip gave us a donation of Ziplock bags so the staff can put their phones in them while they are working with patients and not contaminating their phones.”