STORY UPDATE: Mercy Medical Center accepting mask donations
(APRIL 7, 2020) – Mercy Medical Center is now welcoming community donations of cloth masks.
Mercy officials are thanking community members who have fired up those sewing machines in the effort.
If you would like to help, check out the following website for step-by-step instructions on how to make these masks and the number to call when you are ready to donate.
Local Rotary organization joins mask effort, partners with Mercy
(City press release)
People across the City and County are responding to the shortage of protective face masks with American ingenuity — they are making their own. And they aren’t stopping there. They are making them for their families, their neighbors, and now they are making masks for medical personnel and first responders.
To help with the process, and to smooth out the distribution end, Rotary Community Corps Merced County has stepped in. The group set up a collection and distribution system, and is organizing volunteers and seeking donations to make more masks.
The campaign is a partnership with Dignity Health, Merced County and the City of Merced.
Organizer Robert Garcia, who is the Community Service Chair for the Merced Sunrise Rotary, said all masks will stay in the community where they were made.
“If someone makes masks in Merced, they will stay and help the people there,” Garcia said. “If they live in Atwater and make masks there, the masks will stay there unless they tell us otherwise.”
Garcia said there is a huge need throughout the area due to the coronavirus emergency. The handmade masks won’t replace the surgical masks and the N95 respirators, but will be used in place of them where they can.
The project started when Garcia was organizing a wellness check-in project at a senior living facility. “The manager at the site said she was in dire need of masks and cleaning supplies,” Garcia said. He started asking around and found out the need was a lot bigger, and the project grew.
Currently the drop-off site is in Merced, but Garcia expects to have more locations in the County soon.
In order to maintain social distancing, the mask drop-off will be a drive-thru at the Merced Senior Community Center, 755 W. 15th St. Merced. It is open from 7 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.
Volunteers and supplies are needed, and people can sign up at rccmercedcounty.org.
The website has a video and tips on how to make masks from the University of Florida College of Medicine.
Locals sewing masks for medical community
By Jonathan Whitaker / Merced County Times
Local seamstresses, sewers, textile artists and “crafters” have shifted to creating fabric masks to temporarily help with the medical shortage at hospitals and clinics due to the coronavirus pandemic and community spread.
Medical face masks for healthcare workers are running dangerously low due to the rapid increase of COVID-19 patients filling up hospitals. Another negative factor includes consumers purchasing protective equipment for their own personal use.
Hospitals across the nation are asking for donations of the N95 respirators — those are the CDC-recommended masks for healthcare professionals working with infectious patients.
However, these efforts aren’t enough to keep up with the demand, and so everyday people across the nation — including in Merced — are taking it upon themselves to sew masks for those on the front lines. Fabric masks are not nearly as effective as N95 masks, but they’re still useful because hospitals are completely running out of masks altogether.
The Times caught up with Robin Mahacek of Merced who has been busy over the past few weeks sewing and taking care of her family at home. She pointed out that she was only one of thousands of sewing enthusiasts putting their talents to work for the greater good.
“It’s not uncommon for us to have large stashes of fabric,” Mahacek said. “We have been able to remain home using our own inventory. It’s a current movement happening right now and I encourage friends and others to participate if they can. It’s also a perfect home economics lesson for kids at home.”
Mahacek said she had plenty of supplies, but added that stores like JOANN Fabrics and Crafts in Merced has been flooded in recent days with people buying supplies. JOANN’s is also considered the easiest drop-off point for locals wanting to donate. On one recent day, a resident dropped off 80 homemade masks.
“I also rely on a local nurse and one of my doctors to get them to patients in need,” Mahacek said. “Unfortunately, there isn’t a central drop off point established at this time for Mercy as far as I understand. I am also providing masks to some local physicians offices that I was able to connect with. I encourage those who are making masks to check with their own doctors to see if they would be in need and/or JOANN’s at this time.”
Each medical provider will have to determine if they are allowing use of the cotton masks being donated. People who have industry grade N95 masks are urged to donate or sell them to hospitals. The CDC doesn’t recommend the use of N95 masks for anyone other than healthcare professionals working directly with patients.
• Sewing Resources — JOANN’s website has a great starting point for mask patterns of all sorts.
Go to: joann.com/make-to-give-response
• Here’s a link to a how-to video about creating fabric masks: https://youtu.be/A6pdCtPR6Og