Making Masks & Flattening the Curve: How One CES Employee Is Doing Her Part to Help

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[Mobile, AL] — Mobile Central team member Christie Peterson can sew. After seeing videos of nurses and other healthcare professionals being forced to re-use their masks — some of them several days at a time due to the ongoing pandemic — Christie decided to put her seamstress abilities to good use.

“People in healthcare are working with high-risk patients and they don’t all have protective masks to prevent the virus from getting them sick. When I saw that nurses and doctors are wearing the same masks for 16-hour shifts and having to wear them again the next day, and the day after that, I just realized I had to do something,” she said.

That something is sewing protective masks for doctors and nurses to wear as covers over their medical-grade masks. Not only does it work as a functional, protective shield over their current mask, but it is also a reusable and washable alternative that may extend the lifespan of standard medical masks. And while the CDC recommends people not wear medical masks for more than eight hours at a time, the current shortage has made it difficult for some doctors and nurses to follow the recommended guidelines.

“There are many hospitals right now that won’t accept sewn protective masks because they’re just not medical-grade,” she said. “But in high-risk areas like Pennsylvania and New York, there may not be another alternative until the supply is replenished.”

That’s where Christie comes in. So far, she’s made 30 masks, but the more she sews, the faster she gets. And her mission doesn’t stop with just her. She’s reached out to CES Cares to help encourage employees across the country to participate, and she’s even taking her mask-making to the next level.

“In case some hospitals don’t have the masks to even cover with another layer, I’ve been working on sewing protective masks that allow our healthcare workers to insert their own filters,” Christie said. “It takes a little bit more time than sewing the covers, but they contour to the wearer’s face and don’t have any openings on the sides.”

Hospitals and medical professionals above all realize that homemade masks are a temporary solution, but right now, there aren’t very many alternatives. At the time, it is still a solution, and they can use these washable, reusable homemade masks for not just themselves, but also at-risk patients to help prevent spreading. At the very least, these masks might help flatten the curve, a phrase that has been used to describe slowing the progression of the coronavirus’ spread.

When asked what motivates her during such a hard time, Christie had some inspiring words to offer that help keep her going.

“I’m just doing everything I can for people,” Christie said. “There’s not a number I’m trying to reach. There’s a lot out of our control right now, so I’m just trying to make as many as I can. When I started, I didn’t know if there’d even be a hospital willing to accept these. But the longer that this goes on, there could be a big need for it, and I want do what I can to help in any way possible.”

Christie has certainly done her part to help, and she’s reaching out to other CES employees to get as many of these masks made as possible.

“Throughout all of this, I’ve just been overwhelmed by how complete strangers are willing to help one another right now. Making these masks is how I can help, and if they can get in the right hands, I will feel that all of this was worth it. It could give these healthcare workers a feeling that someone is trying to help them when they are completely overwhelmed. It could give them a better chance at flattening the curve.”

At Christie’s branch, some of her team members are even taking up the cause and doing their part by wearing masks that she has made.

How to Get Involved If you know how to sew or know someone who does, please get involved at CES Cares! We have a free resource available to help you get started! As of right now, there are many healthcare organizations accepting homemade masks. Check for a list of hospitals and other organizations in your area that are asking for masks. They also have even more DIY instructions available for different types of masks for our healthcare professionals.

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