Loren Bast, Executive Director of Bainbridge Prepares, and his team asked themselves at the start of COVID-19, What can we do, being as scientific as possible, to help? After speaking with doctors on the Island who are also members of BP’s Medical Reserve Corps, the team identified mask making as the best use of resources to meet a current need.
On a recent Bainbridge Community Broadcast podcast, Bast explained what masks are in short supply right now. The N-95 mask is designed for a doctor or a nurse to use to protect her- or himself from the virus. The 95 in the name refers to the fact that the mask is designed to trap 95 percent or more of pollutants.
The other type of mask in short supply is the surgical mask. These masks are intended for use by infected or possibly infected people to avoid infecting others.
After talking to professionals at clinics here and in the county, the BP team decided that its resources would best be used to target the surgical type of mask. Gilian Engelson, of BP’s Resource Acquisition and Deployment Team, reached out to the Executive Director of BARN (the Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network), Denise Dumouchel, who brought in the director of the Fiber Arts program, Fran Fuller.
The three of them got to work and recruited 40 sewers and kit assemblers. They tried out three different fabric types until they found the right one. Then, using elastic and pipe cleaners, they were able to turn out the first batch of masks. They showed them to the head nurse at Virginia Mason on Bainbridge, and she loved them and ordered 20.
The sewing and assembling teams are taking orders that come in via the City, making and sanitizing the masks, and distributing them to local clinics.
Photos by Fiona Yates.