The Journal Gazette
Thursday, March 26, 2020 1:00 am

Volunteers line up early to sew masks for Parkview


Cars were lined up by 8:30 a.m. Wednesday on the Parkview Health campus as residents answered the call to sew masks at home to protect some staff members and hospital visitors from the virus that causes COVID-19.

Parkview Health spokeswoman Jessica Foor called the response “overwhelming.”

“They're already out of the kits we handed out today,” she said Wednesday morning. “Cars were lined up out to the street.”

Those with sewing machines who couldn't get a kit shouldn't worry – staff members are making more, Foor said. About 250 kits more – 12,500 masks – and that was just Wednesday.

In a room set up with tables, staff cut fabric and ribbons for the next distribution – scheduled for 8:30 a.m. today.

Volunteer Adrianne Kartholl, a Parkview clinical dietitian, said she “probably cut 800 yards of ribbon” Wednesday morning – including ribbon with polka dots and leopard spots before it ran out and she had to switch to plain white.

“I do crafts, and I did a couple of sewing projects this year and I understand patterns,” she said. “In our department, we were asked if anyone can sew and help and I replied,” said Kartholl, 35.

“Seeing the cars lined up was just awesome.”

Kelsey Irmiter, manager of Parkview gift shops in Allen County, said 221 kits with 50 masks each went out Wednesday. Some from earlier in the week already had come back, she said.

Irmiter, who volunteered to coordinate the kits effort, was surprised at the response.

“I knew people would want to do their part, but people came out of their way to get these kits,” she said, adding she thinks it was partly because people felt helpless sitting at home.

“It's a testament to how great our community is.” 

The kits will be handed out until at least Friday or possibly until early next week if materials don't run out. Those who sew can return finished masks to any Parkview location.

Volunteer sewers are asked to check Parkview Health's Facebook page for updates.

The masks being made are divided into clinical and non-clinical varieties for visitors and some staff, said Tami Brigle, a Parkview spokeswoman. The non-clinical types sewn at home go to patients, such as women having a baby and their families, pediatric patients and staff members who don't have direct contact with patients, she said, adding selected people are sewing the clinical masks for workers. 

Brigle stressed Parkview has plenty of personal protective equipment, known as PPE.

“No one is out of anything right now,” she said. “We're being proactive. We see what's going on around the country and the world, and we're trying to be good stewards of our resources.”

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