Masks in short supply
It might be hard to remember back to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and the scarcity of masks for healthcare workers. But this was the case for workers and residents at Avamere Rehabilitation of Beaverton at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020.
At the start of the pandemic, the leadership team quickly realized that the supply of masks would run out almost immediately. With PPE orders being backlogged or simply not being filled, the staff at Beaverton began brainstorming alternative solutions.
Coming up with the first solution
The first solution the team thought of was to buy high-quality fabrics at the local craft stores to make cloth masks. Leah Kruy, Infection Preventionist, visited all the local fabric stores within a reasonable driving distance to purchase fabrics and elastic materials. After some initial trial and error and a few days of effort, Leah produced over 200 hundred masks. The majority of those masks were donated for staff use.
It was clear this supply wouldn’t last long and another solution would need to be created as stores began selling out of fabric statewide. The team at Avamere Rehabilitation of Beaverton was down, but not defeated. Team members rallied with Leah to devise a solution.
What could work now?
The team wondered what other materials would provide sufficient protection against particles that was readily available and easy to work with. As they brainstormed, they heard the cleaning team of the building hard at work making the community spotless, including running the vacuum cleaner. And then it hit them: vacuum bags!
Upon further research, the team learned that industrial vacuum bags can provide a barrier against 95% of particles. The community purchased vacuum bags from a nearby vacuum store and work began immediately.
Leah and her mother volunteered to produce the masks. During each weekend for the next few weeks, her home was turned into a mask-making factory. When all was said and done, Leah and her mother made 2,000 vacuum masks.
“This ingenious project would not have been possible without everyone’s combined efforts,” noted Leah. “My mother and I continued making masks for a few weeks until the supply of surgical and N95 masks became sufficient to meet the needs of the facility. Although we are not currently engaged in any PPE projects, I know that the dedicated and creative staff at Avamere Beaverton can always be relied upon during times of need again.”
Learn more about Avamere Rehabilitation of Beaverton on their Facebook page.