COOS COUNTY — Over the weekend, community members around the county sprang into action to sew hundreds of home-made surgical masks to donate to local healthcare workers at Bay Area Hospital.
Ruthe Garagnon, president of the Coos Sand ‘n Sea Quilt Guild, said she received a call last week from a volunteer with Bay Area Hospital asking if she could help provide protective masks for its medical staff.
On a mission, Garagnon and fellow quilting guild member Erika Barcott reached out to the entire Coos County group to see who was able to help and contribute to the project. With about 27 yards of elastic donated to Garagnon by a local community member, the ladies went to work.
About 150 masks were made by the group’s initial volunteers, which included around 15 members from the local quilting guild. The majority of the quilters who helped over the weekend belong to the “Quilts for Giving” organization, which usually makes quilts year-round to donate to local area hospitals.
With folks being advised to practice social distancing and stay home, Garagnon said the “Quilts for Giving” group hasn’t been able to get together to make the quilts, but that its members have the necessary sewing equipment at their homes to assist them in making the masks.
“We have an amazing group of woman helping us get these masks ready,” said Garagnon. “As the president of the guild, to see the great working attitudes of people putting aside every kind of differences they have and coming together for a common goal … to keep our healthcare workers safe so that they can keep all of us safe … (It’s) absolutely wonderful.”
Kelli Dion, public information officer for Incident Command at Bay Area Hospital, said it’s been amazing to see the community rally together to help. At the moment, the hospital has an adequate amount of masks and protective gear but it’s not quite sure when it will receive its next shipment.
“Hopefully we continue to get shipments because we know the medical grade masks are going to protect our staff better than anything homemade,” said Dion. “But, we also have to face the harsh reality that we may come to a point where we just don’t have access to the medical grade masks and then the homemade masks produced by the community would be the only thing between staff and this illness so it’s not ideal, but it’s a whole lot better than not having anything at all.”
According to the Dion, the hospital has already implemented a number of restrictions to better control the amount of masks and protective gear it currently has in house such as canceling all elective surgeries and restricting visitors.
“It’s just been really heartwarming to see,” said Dion. “It really kind of shows what Coos County is made of and when the going gets tough you know they will come out in support.”
Bay Area Hospital announced via Facebook that it is actively accepting donations of protective eyewear equipment, respirators, nitrile gloves, hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes as well masks from private and commercial entities.
Reedsport Coast Quilters, Elkton Quilt Guild, The Rhodie Guild, Coquille Valley Quilters and Bandon quilters as well as many more organizations and community members around Coos County have created and donated masks for local health workers.
Community members interested in donating masks, which must be CDC complaint, can drop them off at the Coos Head Food Co-Op, which is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Volunteers are being asked to pre-wash their fabric, which should be made of either a cotton or cotton blend material, before making a donation. For additional guidelines, people can visit Bay Area Hospital’s Facebook page.