On Tuesday, Pella Regional Health Center announced it will be accepting hand-sewn face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we continue to watch the evolving landscape of healthcare and the world as whole with the COVID-19 pandemic, we realize that accepting help from our community partners in different ways is invaluable,” reads a statement on the hospital’s website.
However, stipulations have been put in place to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the masks. The hospital asks individuals use a paper pattern from Properfit Clothing Co® to produce PM 2.5 face masks. The pattern is available for download at (https://www.properfitclothing.com/product-page/flu-mask-pattern-download) for $2.99.
Individuals can print the pattern from their home printer, and the company has a YouTube video and Facebook page with a downloadable link for an instructional how-to video. Search “How to make a PM 2.5 face mask” by Properfit Clothing Co® (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8WSpnVSsRg).
Additionally, the hospital recommends heavier, non-stretch fabric such as duck cloth, denim, twill, canvas or other tight-woven fabric for the outer portion of masks. The inner lining and filter pocket can be made of cotton, a cotton-blend or non-stretch fabric. It can also be thinner and softer, but they recommended minimal or non-stretch fabric.
The hospital says polyester or other less breathable fabric will not work as well due to moisture production when breathing. If an individual is using denim or other fabric that is being recycled, the hospital asked to ensure it’s clean and in good shape, as worn and dirty fabric will not be protective
The following instructions are further requests from the hospital regarding hand-sewn face masks:
- Pre-wash all fabrics and dry at high temperatures, as they will have to hold up to that for the future. This also prevents these masks from shrinking when they are washed.
- Elastic should be in good shape, with plenty of stretch and of an appropriate size to fit over the ears. A 1/16 in round cord or 1/8 inch braided work best.
- If elastic is not available, fabric ties can be sewn on the mask. There will need to be four ties (one tie on each of the four corners). Ties should be approximately 1/4 inch in width, sewn in such a way that there are not frayed edges, and long enough to be tied into a bow on the top of the head (for the top corner and behind the head for the bottom corner).
- The 3.5 by 4 inch plastic coated bendy strips across the top of the mask are important to allow the user to bend the metal to create a close fit over the nose. Two 4 inch plastic coated twist ties work well. Paper twist ties do not hold up to washing.
- Extra wide double bias tape can be purchased. It is also easy to make if you prefer, or if supplies are limited. There are instructions and videos online on how to make the bias tape.
“Your time and talent can greatly impact our ability to care for our community members and help ensure our safety as we do,” continues the statement. “Fabric masks offer the benefit of being able to be washed and reused. When Pella Regional moves to using fabric masks, each healthcare worker will need to change their masks several times during their shifts as the masks become soiled or damp-for maximum protection. We are not worried about looking stylish, but we are concerned about functionality.”