During World War I, the United States was so ill-prepared to go to war, we didn’t have enough socks, mittens, sweaters and yes – even bandages. Back then, the American Red Cross organized knitting drives in almost every small and large town in the nation to adequately equip our brave soldiers.
Today, a little over a century later, we are facing a very different war, the COVID-19 global pandemic.
And instead of knitting socks and rolling bandages for soldiers, health care professionals need facemasks, gowns and various protective items to defend them from a deadly virus.
In that spirit, in less than a week, women, men and families throughout Birmingham and Alabama are sewing facemasks, at the request of medical professionals.Note: Bham Now does not recommend use of these masks as personal protective equipment against any illness as there is no way to know their efficacy.
A Grassroots Movement
With the news of the pandemic getting worse, last Friday Birmingham resident, Kathy Green read an article about Deaconess Hospital in Indiana requesting its community sew fabric masks in the event they have a shortage.
“I thought, if they are going to have a shortage, we are going to have a shortage,” stated Green.
She quickly got to work, reaching out to friends in Birmingham’s large medical community. She heard a need. She immediately started a Facebook page called Face Mask Sewing for Birmingham Healthcare – that included the Deaconess Hospital pattern on how to sew together a facemask, and invited people to join in.
Then something amazing happened.
In less than 5 days, 2757 joined the Facebook page to support and produce fabric face masks for Birmingham’s frontline medical community. The call also reached the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital/Foundation who requested 500 facemasks as soon as possible. On Wednesday, they will receive their masks.
Can you imagine the look on the medical professionals’ face when they see these beautifully and lovingly crafted facemasks?
Green understands these face masks cannot replace medically approved equipment.
“In a war, our soldiers are the ones on the frontline. In this war it is our medical care people. They are the ones fighting on the frontline. I, for one, do not want them to think for one second, that they may have the choice of no protection. I know we are not replacing an N95 mask (most protective). We are not making those.”
“If we have a choice between nothing and something, we all would choose something. I want them to have that choice.”
With that as her vision and the group’s mission, she has been receiving requests for masks, throughout the community.
Her army of Facebook supporters are busy, much like the World War I knitters for the American Red Cross, to fill their requests.
If you would like to know more visit Face Mask Sewing for Birmingham Healthcare.
By the way, Alabama’s Chief Health Officer, Scott Harris has stated unequivocally, he does not encourage handmade masks for the public and for healthcare workers. Medical authorities agree. Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 crisis, there is a nationwide shortage of N95 masks and surgical masks. As a result, if there are no other options available, the CDC allows use of homemade masks. To quote them directly:
From the CDC:
Health Care Provider (HCP) use of homemade masks:
In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.
More Photos & Thank You
Over 50 people sumitted photos of their homemade facemasks to Bham Now. We posted about half of them in this article. You are ALL inspirational!