Local quilters helping make PPE for doctors and nurses

Posted at 11:02 PM, May 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 00:02:14-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Personal Protective Equipment is a term you hear quite often now. There are shortages across the nation for health care workers during this pandemic.

One local doctor took matters into her own hands but knew she needed some help. The response to that help has been greater than anyone imagined.

“Never did I think I’d be making masks, or gowns, or caps,” said Judy Fletcher of Celtic Quilters.

Those concerns about PPE made Fletcher want to help.

“As a quilter or a sewer, you think, wow, someone ought to help with that,” said Fletcher.

Dr. Tifany Somer-Shely from Methodist Women’s Hospital, saw the issue with PPE. She decided to take material called halyard, found in operating rooms, that’s normally thrown away, and turn it into isolation gowns. The gowns are wore by doctors and nurses wear when treating respiratory illnesses. She made a few gowns but knew she needed help and got in touch with Patricia Longacre.

“She had already made a bunch, and then Methodist looked at it and kind of decided let’s try and do this,’ Longacre of Nebraska Masks for Medicine.

Longacre co-founded the group, where volunteers had already been making masks and caps for health care workers and decided to help Somer-Shely.

“We could not do it on our own even though she was trying by herself but were glad; she needs to be a doctor. She doesn’t need to be sewing, so we can help with that,” said Holly Murphy-Barstow the other co-founder.

From there Celtic Quilters starting cutting out the patterns for the gowns, and all the material goes in these kits, that volunteer quilters pick up and put together and the response has been overwhelming.

“We will spend all day answering the phone just for can I come get a kit, how do i sign up to get a kit, how can I help, can I drop something off, can I donate elastic, it’s been amazing,” said Fletcher.

“We are only as good as our team of volunteers, and I will say that it is really an honor to be a Nebraskan because no matter what we ask somebody says yes,” said Murphy-Barstow.

If you’re interested in wanting to help out with the sewing process, visit the Nebraska Masks for Medicine FB page.