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Locals make, donate protective gear to front line workers during shortage

Healthcare workers across the country are running out of essential personal protective equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medical facilities and workers have all made pleas, asking for stockpiled or even handmade PPE due to limited local supply.

Those pleas have been heard by some locals who have stepped up to help those on the front line in the coronavirus struggle.

A pair of South Lake Tahoe residents are making and donating fabric, handmade masks while an Incline Village resident is trying to bring 3-D face shields to local hospitals.

Jade Child, of South Lake Tahoe, has been busy sewing PPE masks. She dropped her first batch of 24 masks at Grass Roots Natural Foods and sent three others to nurses in Reno.

Child said she bought the material over a year ago originally to make baby bows or dogs bandanas, but when she saw people online making masks she switched gears.

Now, the material is being used to protect local workers at gas stations, grocery stores, post-offices and more.

“People have been really reaching out,” Child said and added that she wants to focus efforts on people who don’t have access to masks.

She said she is making masks for several for people who are still working daily at a local business.

“I am just happy to help,” she said.

Child is accepting donations to buy materials, but a donation is not required if someone is in need of a mask.

Child is also a small business owner herself. She is the co-founder of South Tahoe Craft Company which sells jewelry and self-care products.

Another South Shore local, Lela Sims, recently saw a post on Facebook that was calling on people who could sew and use a pattern and, luckily for those in need, she knows how to sew as well.

Sims had a friend who donated some supplies to her and she got to work.

“I just started making them and giving them away on Sunday and since then, they’ve gone to Barton, Los Angeles, Reno and Arizona.”

Across the lake, Sara Shorin of Incline Village is trying to bring 3-D printed face shields to local hospitals in the Reno-Tahoe area to prepare for the peak of COVID-19.

Shorin began searching for effective face shields when she heard that the St. Josephs in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where her sister works, had to use clear plastic sheets (the ones used in binders) as makeshift shields for those working with COVID-19 patients.

Shocked, Shorin began searching for something better.

“Everyone is scabbling for supplies,” Shorin said.

She found a 3-D shield model by PRUSA, a small company from Czechoslovakia that created an open-sourced design for the shields that have been approved by Michigan Medical.

With that design, Shorin found a 3-D printing vendor and printed 1,000 shields which she donated to St. Josephs.

Shorin has been pitching the design to local hospitals including Renown, St. Marys, Carson Tahoe, Tahoe Forest and Barton. Shorin is connecting nonprofits and hospital foundations with local 3-D printing vendors.

“Supplies are going to hotspots, communities are going to be left behind,” Shorin said. “Communities are going to have to rise up.”

Shorin is taking out the time-consuming legwork so medical workers don’t have to sift through to find the right design and instead just receive the right gear. Shorin explained that each hospital can modify the shield to fit their criteria. Shorin wants to take the model she did for Michigan and bring it here locally.

Shorin believes that each hospital system needs to have a call to action from their local community.

“Larger hotspots of COVID-19 are likely to get the attention of FEMA before addressing our smaller communities,” she said. “Each hospital system can have a big impact on saving their own community by working together to source and produce protective gear.”

Shorin plans to start a Facebook campaign to raise money for the shields.

For more information on the PRUSSA shield or to download the free printable design visit, http://www.prusa3d.com/covid19/.

Barton is asking for medical supply donations including masks of any kind, disinfecting wipes such as Clorox or Sani-cloth wipes, hand sanitizer, face shields, goggles and eye shields, isolation or surgical gowns, controlled air purifying respirator and powered air purifying respirator machines or disposables.

Barton is also accepting sewn masks and urges people to donate materials to people who can sew.

“The Barton Foundation has gratefully received hundreds of handmade face masks as well as donated personal protective equipment from residents and local businesses,” said Barton Foundation Executive Director Chris Kiser in an email. “Like many hospitals in the nation, Barton has a limited supply of PPE as a result of the pandemic across the globe; therefore, community donations are helping to supplement our inventory.”

The Barton Foundation is organizing medical supply donations as a single access point to ensure safety criteria of donated supplies are met.

“This is an unprecedented time, with unprecedented solutions needed to solve constantly evolving issues,” Dr. Clint Purvance, President & CEO at Barton Health said in a press release. “This crisis has brought people and industries together in a joint effort to slow the coronavirus’ spread and save lives.”

Businesses and residents can make a tax-deductible donation of these medical supplies by contacting Kiser at ckiser@bartonhealth.org, or 530-543-5612.

Drop-off location for supplies is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, at 2092 Lake Tahoe Blvd., Suite 600, located directly across from Fire Station No. 3.

Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno opened their Handcrafted Mask Drive-Thru on March 27.

“We are grateful for the outpouring of support from our community to sew masks,” said Director of Service Excellence at Renown Health, Amber Maraccini in an email. “Community members came out in force for the first day our Handcrafted Mask Drive-Thru was open to donate hand-sewn masks, unused Personal Protective Equipment and pick up our ‘make a mask’ kits.”

Renown is still accepting donations. They ran out of ‘make a mask’ kits but say they will have more available shortly.

“The support of our community members to produce masks at home has helped us to conserve supplies and add to our existing supply to help keep us prepared.”

The Handcrafted Mask Drive-Thru is located in the valet area of Tahoe Tower at Renown Regional Medical Center and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

To learn more or to learn how to sew different types of masks visit http://www.bartonhealth.org/foundation/sew-a-mask.

If someone is in need of a mask or wants to get involved, Lela Sims can be contacted at leladrew7@gmail.com.

Jude Child also can be reached at jchild5683@gmail.com.


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