Donations of Home-Sewn Gowns Welcomed

posted on Monday, April 6, 2020 in COVID-19

In the last couple of weeks, Spencer Hospital has received a generous number of home-sewn masks, courtesy of many talented and helpful community members. While masks remain beneficial, the need for additional cloth gowns has also been identified.

“Due to the current limitations on supplies of disposable and cloth gowns, there may come a time during this response when commercially manufactured gowns are no longer readily available,” explained Mindy Gress, Spencer Regional Healthcare Foundation director. “Because of this concern, we are looking for homemade washable cloth gowns that can be worn by providers during patient care.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health recently has shared instructions and a pattern for creating a cloth gown which can be found here:

Gress added, “We’ve started getting calls wondering if we need more masks. It’s hard to know when enough is enough as there is so much uncertainty in the impact COVID-19 will have on our hospital and our region. Donations can continue to be dropped off at the emergency room entrance, on the east side of the hospital campus. If we find that we have an abundance, we are reaching out to other area care agencies to share.”

DeeAnn Vaage, Spencer Hospital infection preventionist, shared that the CDC (Centers for Prevention & Disease Control) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. She emphasized that a cloth mask is designed to protect others, not the person wearing it.

“The use of simple cloth face coverings is suggested to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others,” Vaage explained. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. Vaage cautioned that cloth masks should not create assurance that social distancing is not necessary. Staying home, when possible, and striving to maintain a distance of six feet or greater when out publicly, remains important.  Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.