Community members step up to create protective gear during pandemic

Community members step up to create protective gear during pandemic

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The country continues to battle an extreme shortage of personal protective equipment like face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to healthcare workers, people forced to leave their homes for work and essentials want to feel safe. As supplies run low, there are some people in the community who are stepping up to do their part.

Ex-Navy nurse Julie Tyslan has found a new way to spend her time while the governor’s ‘Stay at Home’ order is in place. She’s putting her hands to use on her sewing machine to help other nurses like her.

“I got fabric; I got a sewing machine. Sign me up,” said Tyslan.

Tyslan heard about the shortages of PPE and went to Facebook to ask if anybody needed face masks and the response was overwhelming. With every stitch, she’s thinking about the doctors, nurses and essential workers who still power through the job.

“I can’t even imagine," said Tyslan. "These healthcare workers are having to save lives and do what they can with not enough equipment and its sad and frustrating and infuriating.”

Tyslan isn’t the only one trying to do her part to help the community; Juana Shotwell, a local seamstress, is also making headbands for nurses to help prevent the irritation behind the ears that comes from wearing medical masks for an extended period of time. She’s partnering with a nurse at NHRMC to make sure they get to the people who need it the most.

Neither the headbands or the face masks are CDC approved, but it still makes people feel better and more comfortable.

“This is temporary... this is a bandage on a hemorrhaging wound, so this is better than nothing.”

Local hospitals have said for the time being, they’re not doing too bad on PPE gear. Healthcare workers use N95 masks, so they’ll only be able to accept handmade masks if they absolutely have to. Seniors and other essential workers, however, say they’re putting the hand-sewn masks to good use.

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