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Nebraska Medicine needs help again, this time with sewing masks

Nebraska Medicine needs help again, this time with sewing masks

Nebraska Medicine is asking people to rev up their sewing machines again.

The medical center needs masks that will primarily be used for inpatients. If supplies allow, anyone from IT workers to food service to the call center could receive them.

“We have enough fabric to make up to 50,000 of these masks,’’ spokesman Kayla Thomas said. “That would be a pretty incredible amount, but we know there are lots of people who want to help.’’

About 2,500 people previously volunteered to repair scrubs for Nebraska Medicine. About 1,700 of the 2,000 items distributed have been returned.

Thomas said masks would help Nebraska Medicine prevent asymptomatic or presymptomatic spread of COVID-19 as recommended by the CDC.

Nebraska Medicine’s sterile processing staff developed the pattern and process based on a study from the University of Florida. That study suggested the fabric used for surgical draping has better filtration ability than regular cloth.

“We are using a slightly different material than the University of Florida, and we are doing our own testing to see how these masks compare to those in the study,’’ Thomas said. “This fabric allows these masks to be washed and reworn like clothing.’’

Nebraska Medicine is providing the surgical draping material, the pattern and the thread and as much elastic as they can supply. Staff are trying to respond within 24 hours to interested sewers who email masks@nebraskamed.com.

The response Nebraska Medicine has received from previous requests for help has been amazing, Thomas said.

“People have been incredibly generous donating things like masks and hand sanitizer,’’ Thomas said. “The fact that they are willing to share their sewing talent is an asset to our team. So many have remarked that they can’t be there to treat patients, but they want to help the people who do any way they can.’’

Thomas said currently, hand sanitizer is Nebraska Medicine’s greatest need. It uses up to 132 gallons per day.

Thomas said Nebraska Medicine currently has enough N95 masks for the medical staff. The process that its team engineered to decontaminate N95 masks with ultraviolet light has helped conserve resources.

“That protocol is now being used all around the world,’’ Thomas said.

Scrubs found

Goodwill Omaha and Max I. Walker’s retail divisions have partnered to donate more than 375 pairs of freshly laundered scrubs to the Creighton School of Medicine’s scrub drive for Bergen Mercy.

Although Goodwill stores are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus, Goodwill’s retail operations team collected scrubs from all of its stores. The total was more than 375 pairs of medical scrubs.

Max I. Walker is donating laundering services and will clean all of the scrubs.

Goodwill and Max I. Walker will deliver the freshly cleaned scrubs to Creighton on Wednesday morning.