Robin Arnett and Brad Jordan, who work together in medical credentialing at Regional One Health, wanted to do something to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They discovered they both enjoy sewing, so they decided to make masks together during their lunch hour. They plan to donate them to members of their team to help keep them safe from infection.
As colleagues in Regional One Health’s medical credentialing office, Brad Jordan and Robin Arnett see firsthand the challenges health care systems face as they work to keep our community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While they are inspired by the efforts of the medical professionals they work with, they’ve also felt the same disconcerting sense of helplessness many people are dealing with as the virus spreads. “When things like this happen, you start to kind of feel out of control,” Brad said. “You ask yourself, ‘Is there anything I can do?’”
They found their answer during a conversation at work one day.
Robin mentioned she has a sewing machine and was planning to make some masks to help family members stay safe when they had to leave their homes. “I’m a child of the ‘70s, so I had home economics and learned to sew,” Robin said. “It was something I could do to help out.”
She found a likeminded ally in Brad, who enjoys quilting as a hobby.
He offered to bring her some of the squares of cotton fabric he had at home. “I told her, ‘You’re welcome to it, just make me a mask too!’” he laughed.
But when he brought the fabric to work, Robin reported she was having trouble with her sewing machine. Brad offered to fix it for her, so she brought it in and together they got it working.
With the machine at their disposal, they decided they might as well get started. Robin and Brad were already spending their daily lunch hour in their department’s kitchen in the interest of social distancing, so they turned the break into a mask-making session.
They are finetuning a design that they can replicate, and they estimate they can make at least four masks over each lunch hour. They plan to distribute them to members of their team.
“I don’t know that I have the expertise Bradley has. He’s the artiste, but I can follow directions!” Robin laughed.
They’re basing the masks on research that recommends using a tightly woven cotton material to create a pleated mask with at least two layers, secured to the user’s face with ties or elastic. The masks are not intended to be medical grade, they said, but they do function as an effective barrier against airborne viruses like COVID-19.
And in this case, they do it with style.
Robin and Brad said the fabric squares they’re using have bright, colorful designs, so their masks will certainly stand out in a crowd. “They’re stylish as well as functional,” Robin said. “We’re even looking at monogramming them!”
Now they’re looking forward to spending more lunch hours doing their part to help colleagues stay safe. They said it’s proving to be a lot of fun – and acts as a balm for that powerless feeling people everywhere are struggling with these days.
“It started as a way of taking back part of my life that felt out of control. Rather than just going around saying, ‘What am I going to do?’ I know that I can do this,” Brad said. “It made me feel like I’m contributing something.”
“You hear about people donating millions, sometimes billions, of dollars, but there are a lot of us that can’t do that,” Robin added. “This is something we can do to make a difference.”