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Alaskans making thousands of homemade masks for healthcare providers

 Nikki Corbett of Soldotna volunteers time to sew cloth face masks for healthcare providers in Alaska. Image courtesy of Nikki Corbett.
Nikki Corbett of Soldotna volunteers time to sew cloth face masks for healthcare providers in Alaska. Image courtesy of Nikki Corbett. (KTUU)
Published: Apr. 5, 2020 at 2:44 PM AKDT
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Alaskans across the state are producing homemade items, like cloth face masks, to support healthcare providers through the COVID-19 pandemic.

One such group is in Soldotna -- started by two businesswomen who happen to be experts with thread and needle.

"We just saw this huge need," said Nikki Corbett, owner of a crafts business called Sew Yup'ik. "Calls were pouring in from everywhere."

Corbett and Jeanne Acton, owner of Bearly Threaded Quilting Too in Soldotna, recruited mask makers by posting "do it yourself" tutorials online. So many people called in to help, they started sending mask making kits out to volunteers. The kits are returned with completed masks ready for shipment to providers.

"I worry about my coworkers. I worked at the hospital in Bethel for 15 years," Corbett said. "So I have friends who are healthcare providers all over the world. If I can help make masks to protect them, then why not?”

These masks are not strong enough to protect those working with COVID-19 patients, but they

can

be used in different healthcare settings. Every donated mask helps relieve pressure on healthcare workers and build a stockpile of medical equipment.

The Municipality of Anchorage Health Department has asked businesses and residents to

, including homemade cloth masks which will be used by the Anchorage Fire Department.

Alaska Regional Hospital is also receiving homemade mask donations. A hospital spokesperson said Sunday while the hospital is not requesting donations, it is “very gratefully accepting those that have been generously donated.”

Within the hospital providers continue to use medical masks only. But Alaska Regional employees are being provided homemade masks for use outside of the hospital.

Central Peninsula Hospital (CPH) in Soldotna started accepting donations of homemade face masks in late March. “Central Peninsula Hospital welcomes fabric homemade masks from the community as we continue our planning for the coronavirus spread,” the hospital’s website reads. “If you sew them, we will take them!”

Healthcare providers do not use homemade fabric masks in the care of COVID-19 patients according to CPH. However, they are helpful in other areas of patient care and according to the CDC are an option “when other supplies become exhausted.”

Click

for CPH recommendations on making and delivering masks.

Click

for DIY homemade face mask tips from Alaskan businesses.

Copyright KTUU 2020. All rights reserved.

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