OAKHURST — Sierra Mountain Quilters wasted no time this past week responding to a call from an area hospital for protective medical masks now so crucial in the battle against COVID-19. Or more precisely — the quilters made masks to protect masks.
Just last week an urgent request for DIY masks came to the quilters from a Yosemite High graduate. Casey Johnson Hamby, (YHS Class of 2000) now a nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Roseville, told her mother Gail Johnson Lancaster, a retired Oakhurst Elementary teacher, that the Kaiser hospital staff desperately needed cloth masks to protect their N95 masks.
Casey described having to use the same N95 mask for several days — and needing to protect it.
Under normal circumstances, N95 masks are considered disposable. But today’s coronavirus pandemic is causing medical professionals and other first responders to run low on the masks and other PPEs (personal protective equipment).
So Casey and her fellow nurses put their heads together and designed a mask using cotton and flannel with an interior pocket to hold and protect their precious N95 masks.
Bear Paw Quilts and More of Oakhurst also helped by purchasing a large quantity of ¼” elastic straps, something quilters don’t often need.
On April 1, SMQA members drove by the drop off site and a handful of masked volunteers collected the washed masks while being always mindful of social distancing, happy to at least see one another in passing — and all glad to put their sewing skills to use to help the medical professionals on the front lines.