REEDSPORT – Hospitals around the country are suffering a dire need for Personal Protection Equipment during the COVID-19 crisis, but locals have taken the initiative to make or donate supplies and help medical personnel.
According to Rosa Solano, public relations director for the Lower Umpqua Hospital District, they normally get supplies delivered on a weekly basis. However, she added that what they get is determined by what the suppliers have available. At present, their inventory is being tracked every day and they review their needs twice a week.
LUH is currently licensed for 20 beds, all of which are ready for patients. They have also prepared rooms in the old part of the hospital, which had been used as offices. In a Frequently Asked Questions post, the hospital notes that this allows them capacity above their licensed 20 beds.
“In the event that we have an influx of patients, we have already identified other areas of the hospital that could be quickly cleared and utilized to provide patient care,” states the FAQ.
Carrie Oldright, owner of The Timber Faller’s Daughter, is one of the leaders of a project to make facemasks for LUH. She said she got involved after she was asked to join a Facebook group of people from Portland that were working to make masks for hospitals.
She decided to reach out to her doctor at Dunes Family Health Care to see if they had need of masks. The center said they would welcome any donations and Oldright decided on an easy pattern people could use.
Oldright began advertising the project on Facebook through The Timber Faller’s Daughter’s page, looking for others to get involved.
“At this point we haven’t had a ton of masks coming in yet, but we’re hoping to ramp up that process and help our local hospital,” she said.
One batch of masks has already been delivered to LUH, though the work is far from over. Oldright and Theresa Chickering, from The Little Mint, are still working on making new masks, and reached out to an area quilting group.
Patterns for the masks can be found on The Timber Faller’s Daughter Facebook page. People wanting more information can also contact Oldright through The Timber Faller’s Daughter website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The masks being made are not designed to be standalone protection against possible infection. According to Oldright, they’re more being used as covers for the doctors’ N-95 masks. They can also be provided to other employees and visitors to the hospital, as well as care providers at assisted living centers and other care facilities, as an added safety measure.
“I’m just leaving it to the hospital to manage how they want to use them,” Oldright said. “Anything can help at this point, and it’s better to be prepared and have these supplies now rather than when a potential surge hits our community.”
Oldright said they welcome anyone with a sewing machine and some extra time to join in to help. She’s also donating fabric and elastic to anyone who needs some to make masks. Anyone interested in joining the mask-making effort is asked to contact Oldright or Chickering.
In a letter to the community March 24, LUHD Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Fowler expressed his appreciation to everyone in the community who was helping. Along with the masks, he said they have been receiving a variety of donations.
“If you can’t sew but would like to help, they are in need of 1/8 inch elastic,” Fowler said. “It is very difficult to find right now.”
Any thin elastic will also be accepted. Oldright said elastic is the main type material they have need of.
Instructions for making the masks are available on The Timber Faller’s Daughter Facebook page.
Oldright recalled that Legacy Health in Portland told her they’re not accepting masks made from the community at this time. However, they also gave her information for other rural hospitals that could potentially use the assistance.
LUH asks that people making masks not drop them off directly at the hospital campus. Oldright and Chickering are asking that people sewing contact them when they have a batch, or take them to The Little Mint Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., where there’s a monitored drop off site that’s picked up regularly. Oldright encourages people to drop off masks regularly, even if it’s only a few.
The hospital and clinic are also looking for donations of face shields. Solano gave special thanks to Signs and Shirts Unlimited for donating plastic to be used. Shops and similar project spaces often make use of similar masks.
Anyone who has a supply available, from shop projects or other activities, or may be able to hand craft some, is asked to call 541-271-6336 or email email@example.com.
“We are very appreciative to our community members for coming together and helping with donations,” Solano said of the project. “We are thankful for each and every one of those who are hand-crafting masks … These are difficult times for everyone, but once again, we come together as a community.”
Oldright said the initiative of the Reedsport community with this project, and coming together to help protect those that are more vulnerable to the virus, is something “that gives her great faith.” She added that this is what makes Reedsport a great community to live in.