In the WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital Catheterization Lab, you can expect to hear the beeps and rings of heart monitors and medical equipment. However, these days you’ll also hear the buzzing of six sewing machines working to make handmade masks.
“It started as a project to make masks for our families, and now we’ve made well over 1,500 masks,” said Erica Shoemaker, Catheterization Lab Technologist.
The group of women, who usually work healing hearts have been busy making masks from their own hearts, transforming a vacant patient care area into their very own sewing shop. They started with a few masks made from a few yards of material found in a call house. From there, team members brought in their home sewing machines, as others ran to the store for more supplies.
“That’s just how everything rolls in the Cath Lab, we start with a good idea, then it just blossoms into something bigger,” said Tanya Parson, RN.
Beyond the family
As the group continued to produce masks, the Franklin County Housing authority approached WellSpan Community Services with a need: 728 masks for their clients in the community who did not have masks to protect themselves. With donated fabric from the Salvation Army, the Cath Lab team got to work.
“We were already making the masks, so we said, ‘why not?’” recalled Parson.
“Our department as a whole truly believes in community outreach and doing good in the community, at no point do our patients start and end at our doors,” added Nikki Morelock, RN.
In all, more than 800 masks were made and delivered to clients of the Franklin County Housing Authority.
“Within two weeks, we were able to distribute 872 masks to every resident in every household in our Chambersburg and Waynesboro locations,” said Amanda Keefer, Resident Initiatives Coordinator, Franklin County Housing Authority. “Words cannot express how grateful our residents were when they received these masks. They were touched by the community expression of care and concern for them.”
Extra masks were given to St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church and Waynesboro Community and Human Services.
“We are the community. It is our family, it’s our extended family everywhere. We never think of it as doing it for someone else, it’s just a continuation of doing it for our family,” added Parson.
A Team United
Over the last few weeks, the mask project has brought the Cath Lab team closer together, as they taught each other new sewing skills.
“As soon as we’re done with a case, we’re right back sewing,” said Coree Sharrah, RN.
Parson added, “For me, I made a challenge to see how many I can do in a day, I set the goal and do it.”
Any that are left, the group has been giving to other departments in the hospital. Including an estimated 300-to-400 masks to patients in the Emergency Department.
Shoemaker says the project has even helped make connections within WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital.
“It’s introduced us to new people within our hospital, some people from different departments have been coming down for masks who we have never met before, it has brought everyone closer together,” she added.