Workers at Phoebe Putney Health System in Albany volunteered to sew medical masks as the nation’s supply of protective equipment for healthcare workers runs dry. In the midst of the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Phoebe Putney believes it has supplies for a few more days but none after that. It’s already sourcing protective gowns from connections in the restaurant industry and bleach from chicken plants. It finally has supplies to test patients and employees for the disease but LabCorp, which is doing the testing, appears overwhelmed and hundreds of test results remain pending days later. Photo from Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
Photo: Courtesy of Phoebe Putney H.S.
Photo: Courtesy of Phoebe Putney H.S.

Georgia hospitals short on supplies put mask-making templates online

Georgia’s Phoebe Putney Health System, facing a growing outbreak of the coronavirus, has loaded templates to make face masks online for donors locally and around the world to help the hospital group overcome a dire shortage of supplies.

Phoebe Putney, which operates four hospitals in the Albany area, said Sunday it posted the instructions because the system has been flooded with offers to help with the supply shortfall. System leaders have said supplies of protective gear such as gowns, gloves, eye shields and special N95 respirator masks are in short supply.

Employees at Phoebe Putney started sewing their own masks for hospital workers to cover their remaining N95s and extend the N95s’ life spans.

“We have been overwhelmed with calls from people around the country who also want to help,” Phoebe Director of Volunteer Services Suzanne Perrine said in a news release. “While we can only provide materials to local volunteers, we are happy to share our mask-making instructions with volunteers and hospitals around the country. We will gladly accept masks from those who want to support Phoebe, and we encourage Americans to support hospitals in need in their communities as well.”

Mask-making instructions and lists of needed supplies are posted online at http://www.phoebehealth.com/coronavirus. The hospital group said masks can be mailed to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, c/o Supply Chain, 1108 North Monroe St. Albany, Ga., 31701.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia

Hospitals across the nation have been gripped by a shortage of coronavirus tests, protective gear and medical equipment such as swabs, complicating care of critically ill patients and putting hospital workers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Just before noon on Sunday, Phoebe Putney reported more than 100 positive and suspected positive cases of COVID-19 at its main hospital. The system has reported 103 confirmed positive cases overall and six deaths.

Nearly 700 other patients, either in-patient or out-patient, are awaiting results of coronavirus tests.

Phoebe Putney said its employees and volunteers use surgical sheets to manufacture reusable masks, which are treated with water repellant. The system said if donors do not have surgical sheets, a thicker grade and washable 50/50 or 60/40 cotton-polyester blend fabric can be used.

Albany’s Sherwood Baptist Church Hope Center also has set up a collection site to assist the hospitals. A list of needed supplies includes N95 masks, surgical masks, isolation gowns, gloves and sanitizing wipes. The hospital group is also seeking fruit and individually wrapped foods, such as nuts and cereal bars.

Donations can be made Monday and Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 925 Pine Ave. Albany, Ga., 31701.

The Phoebe Foundation is also accepting coronavirus relief donations at www.supportphoebe.org/coronavirusrelief.

“We can’t say ‘thank you’ enough for everyone who has offered help,” Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney’s CEO, said in the release. “The Phoebe Family feels your support, and you are helping us provide outstanding care and service to the people of southwest Georgia through this public health emergency.”

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