BELFAST – Hospitals all around the country have been in dire need of face masks as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow.
Fiddlehead Artisan Supply co-owner, Abby Gilchrist, saw the several articles and posts about the nationwide shortage of face masks.
In just one week her along with several other Mainers have pledged resources to getting health care workers homemade face masks.
Answering the Call:
Gilchrist knew she had to do something. What started as a simple gesture rapidly snowballed right before her eyes.
“I put something out on Facebook and within hours it had all blown up,” Gilchrist said with a smile.
From there, she started the group, Face Masks for Maine, and plans on linking up with another in-state, Masks for Masks.
“Theres a huge huge need out there together we have over 5,000 masks requested already and the requests just keep coming in,” she added.
Gilchrest’s goal isn’t to produce and distribute masks.
Her plan is much more grand.
“So what I’m trying to do is get an organizational method for the state to organize everybody who wants to sew and everybody who needs masks,” Gilchrist said.
Gilchrest said organization was at the forefront of the decision to make a group as she saw several people from around the state offering to make masks, but had no uniform method of distribution.
“We want to keep those people who want to sew at home sewing just keep making masks they don’t have to worry about where to take them who’s going to take them. We’ll be in touch with them about the logistics on that,” Gilchrist added.
The Belfast business owner hopes she can have an organized plan along with “Masks for Masks” in the next few days.
How can you help?
For sewers at home who want to help, Gilchrist says to visit Face Masks for Maine’s website where she will be updating mask drop off locations, supply pick-up locations and instructions on how to make face masks.
“Our website has a patterns tab and that tab will show you our most updated pattern that we’ve posted. Keep checking for more instructions the pattern that’s on there is fine to make,” Gilchrist added.
There is also a form that asks if you have a need for masks, want to help with drop-off and distribution, want to make masks, and have supplies to donate.
Gilchrist added as hospitals offer more information the homemade face masks instructions on Face Masks for Maine’s website may change.
Despite the changes any masks made can be donated and used.
Gilchrist said all masks will be accepted and donated, but is urging those making homemade masks to avoid using elastic as it falls apart easily when sanitized.
“The real kind of medical commercial grade masks, those masks all have elastic on them. But those are disposable, if there’s elastic on a homemade mask and it’s sanitized through bleach it could very well break down quite quickly,” she said.
Despite the lack of durability, Gilchrist said homemade face masks with elastic will be accepted. While the reusable fabric masks serve a huge help. They aren’t 100 percent effective at fighting off COVID-19.
“These masks are better than nothing. They need to be used correctly if you’re using any mask whether it’s a commercial mask or a homemade mask make sure you’ve read about how to keep it sterile,”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say health care professionals may use homemade face masks in an emergency, but should exercise caution as they are not considered personal protective equipment.
But, something is better than nothing.
“What we’ve been hearing apparently the hospitals that are running low can use these masks on top of their good masks and then that will help prolong the life of the good mask,” Gilchrist added.
Steps to Make a Mask:
Steps on how to make a homemade face mask can be found on Face Masks for Maine’s website