Reach out to make your PPE

masksAROUND THE NEK - On a normal day Kimberly Behr is a publisher for a digital magazine about food and wine called The Art Of Eating. But now, she is operating the Northeast Kingdom Operation Face Mask group.

It all started when Behr heard about a need for fabric masks in the Northeast Kingdom. Feeling the need to do something, she contacted Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital to see if they were in need of fabric masks. "They said that they would be happy to take them. I made a quick website, and reached out through social media for more volunteer sewers and people to donate fabric, notions, and money to buy what we needed. The response was amazing."

So Behr got to work, her first task was to start preparing "how to make mask" kits. Each kit has precut fabric, and elastic. Each kit can make up to five masks. There is a pick up and drop off station on Behrs front porch, to ensure everyone is safe. "No human contact; a lot of ziplock bags and medical gloves are being used. Everything is being done extremely carefully, so as not to pass on the virus!"

Currently she has 96 people working from their homes. Sewers have made over 1000 masks and are now working on surgical gowns and caps for the hospitals. "We have a very broad mix of people sewing: everyone from home quilters to an upholsterer to even a costume designer from NYC. The response has been unbelievably amazing."

She has now created a website so everyone can participate from their homes. Tara Lynn Scheidet of Tara Lynn Bridals has been working closely with many people during this time. She had some part in the website, such as uploading photos and also trying to further the connections outside vermont.The website contains gown instructions, mask instructions, and drop off locations. At the top of the gown instructions contains a disclaimer for people that live outside the state of vermont that wish to help local hospitals.

Scheidet tells us that she has made a dozen gowns and has now donated those gowns to Northern Vermont Regional Hospital. She has also sent out a pattern to a fashion designer in New York connected to Create-A-Maker-Inc. Lynn tells us that there are very strict guidelines when it comes to sharing patterns with other people. But she is now allowing this pattern to be used by anyone that wants to work from home to help with PPE supply.

Participants that live outside the state of vermont can go to the website Behr has created and go to the gown instructions at the top of the page. Once you reach that page, there is a link to Create A Marker. Contact them to order your ten copies of Scheidet's pattern to make your hospital gowns for your local hospitals. "You have to order a minimum of ten copies. Another thing is, Create A Marker didn't charge us to digitize it. This is expensive work. The only thing they are charging us for is to print the pattern and to ship the pattern to whoever needs it." For any questions anyone may have, go to the contact and questions section at the top of the website.

The masks have been donated to various places in the Northeast Kingdom. The list includes Northern Vermont Regional Hospital, Northeast Kingdom Community Action, Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging. Employees at all White Market locations have received these masks. Marty's First Stop, in Danville, Western Avenue Veterinary Clinic, and more. "Requests are coming in all the time."

While sending the masks to different locations, Behr has been in contact with an employee Amanda Chapman who works at Northern Vermont Regional Hospital. Chapman helps Behr to provide information on what the hospital needs in terms of personal protection equitment. "We are actually collecting personal protection equipment donations that are coming in from down to various community members that just happen to have some around due to previous projects, to businesses, to dental offices.

People that wish to donate may contact Chapman or Jillian Knight, the project coordinator for Northern Vermont Regional Hospital. Chapman and Knight both manage all donations through the Covid hotline that the hospital has. They organize deliveries to the community connections building. At this time they are asking that you pre-schedule your donations so they are aware of what they are receiving. Donation hours are from 9:00a.m. to 4:00p.m.

The hospital has received over 400 home made masks. But at the moment the hospital has shifted its efforts for home made gowns. The hospital is expecting to have two hundred hospital gowns given to them. Chapman says when she shared that with Behr, her sewers got on top of it. "It's really amazing to see the type of coordination that's happening here and the way that these groups of people are coming together to really meet the needs as they change for the hospital." 

Chapman also shares with us that the staff members at the hospital are really doing their part. "It's been amazing to see everyone just come together and come right down to the supply chain of PPE.They are closely monitoring things, thankfully we have these donations coming in. Everybody is really on top of it from what I am seeing here, and I'm very impressed with hospital operations."