With a worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) maintaining the supply among Foundation Health Partners (FHP) facilities, Tanana Valley Clinic (TVC), Fairbanks Memorial Hospital (FMH) and Denali Center (DC) is crucial. Learn how FHP and the community have partnered up to meet this need.
With a worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) maintaining the supply among Foundation Health Partners (FHP) facilities, Tanana Valley Clinic (TVC), Fairbanks Memorial Hospital (FMH) and Denali Center (DC) is crucial.
“Our circumstance is different from the rest of the nation,” said Chief Quality Officer Teri Kiss. “At FHP we are fortunate to have the necessary PPE, but given so many unknowns with COVID, preserving our supplies is imperative.”
Knowing that, Kiss assigned RN Educator Lori Gibertoni the task of finding solutions specifically for medical masks. Gibertoni started on her search finding the proper materials and instructions.
“To be used in a health care setting, the masks need to be made with a specific material and to certain specifications,” Gibertoni said. “I had the materials and the know-how, but I needed the manpower to make the masks.”
That is where the IBEW 1547 electrical workers union stepped in. Doug Tansy from IBEW 1547 offered the union’s help to construct PPE.
With the pattern, materials and instructions, IBEW Journeyman Amanda Mertes, hit the ground running with the project. She began with door-to-door deliveries of materials and pick-up of completed masks.
When the volunteer group reached 30, she established an email address as the vehicle to communicate with volunteers. She answered hundreds of emails and coordinated mask making kit pick-up and drop-off at people’s homes. To date, the group has over 250 volunteers!
“The community support has been insane!” Mertes said. “So many people have been involved. It is awesome.”
She says that as the masks poured in, the system they had in place for pick-ups and drop-offs became less feasible.
The IBEW partnered with Lorna Ilingworth, from Volunteers in Policing and CERT. Inspired by COVID testing sites, they created a drive-thru to direct traffic and get volunteers the material.
“That partnership has been instrumental in the mask kit distribution and pick up of masks,” said Gibertoni.
The donated masks are delivered to FMH where they are inspected for quality and sterilized in an autoclave by FMH Sterile Processing Distribution (SPD).
To date, the Fairbanks community has made over 8,000 medical masks to help health care workers safe!
“We are so grateful to our community partners and the community. The generosity is outstanding,” Gibertoni said. “We couldn’t do this without you!”
Thank you to the Golden Heart PPE Helpers.
INTERESTED IN GETTING INVOLVED?
MEDICAL MASKS: email@example.com
Mertes explains that the masking materials are available in limited quantities.
For those who are not able to get the medical grade material from the IBEW, we encourage you to make cloth-masks for family and friends. Learn more about Mask Up, Fairbanks here.
Cloth masks can also be donated for distribution among the community. Learn more here.
WHY NOT USE A MEDICAL MASK OUTSIDE OF THE HEALTH CARE SETTING?
Medical masks serve a different purpose than homemade cloth masks.
Medical masks serve the role of protecting health care personnel who have to get in close proximity to people who are sick.
With attention to social distancing, no one out in public should be in that situation.
Homemade masks are an added strategy you can use to limit the spread and protect our community. The homemade mask is designed to help you keep your germs to yourself by limiting the spread of droplets that come out of your nose and mouth when you talk, laugh, and cough.