Lansing woman mass producing masks
By Shauna Stocken
Editor in Chief
Across the country, a shortage of essential supplies plague medical facilities as doctors and healthcare providers assist coronavirus patients.
Despite donations from LCC’s Health and Human Services Division, various Lansing organizations and other agencies, necessary supplies are still in high demand.
“I work for an urgent care where we do COVID (19) testing,” said Sara Hamade, 31, a Dearborn resident and a medical support specialist in Romulus. “I have to wear a mask all day; I can’t breathe.”
According to Hamade, most urgent cares, including her own, are only testing select patients for COVID-19 at this time. Public testing isn’t possible, as these facilities are not properly equipped as treatment sights.
“We have been on backorder for masks and for sanitizer, bleach, etc. for months now,” Hamade said. “It gets frustrating, but nothing we can do.”
To support their community during this time, residents across Lansing have constructed 3-D printed masks and fabric face masks to donate to healthcare workers and those in need.
“I saw that they were doing the (100) Million Mask Challenge (on social media) because there was a shortage on masks,” said Lansing resident Anne Owen, 35. “I decided I would make some masks.”
With leftover fabric from sewing socks for koalas during the Australian wildfires earlier this year, Owen was able to start aiding in the mask challenge. She has since created more than 300 masks in four sizes for medical personnel and personal use.
“I’ve been able to keep up with demand,” Owen said. “I know that in my neighborhood I’ve had two people working in small medical offices that have come, and they have gotten enough (masks) for their entire office.
“I sent two orders to Sparrow and just small medical clinics, caregivers and people who work for Shipt (delivery service). They are also out there like essential employees. Like a lot of people, they need these right now and they just don’t have them.”
Hamade, who is required to wear her N95 mask during her entire shift, explained that there is a right way and a wrong way to wear a mask.
“I think masks can be dangerous if people don’t change or keep it clean,” Hamade said. “There can be a lot of cross-contamination going on if they are touching things, then adjusting their mask by touching their face with their dirty hands.”
Hamade commented that fabric masks, such as the ones Owens is making, are great for individuals who need to buy groceries or pick up medication from the pharmacy.
“I think masks are great and definitely protect people,” Hamade said. “I’m assuming that washing them, and if they are handled properly by professionals and individuals, (they) should be OK.”
Over several weeks, Owen said she has produced masks almost daily despite a minor setback, which slowed production.
“I made about 250 (masks), then my sewing machine broke and I have to homeschool my daughter,” Owen said. “But someone brought me a new machine the other day and got me back into operation again.”
After Owen posted online that her sewing machine broke, another machine was donated by a community member and left outside her door.
“There hasn’t been any cost,” Owen said. People on the Nextdoor app. have donated, and everyone that requested a mask, in the beginning, brought something over to donate and to make more masks.”
Owen said she anticipates making masks regularly for at least the next three months.
“I am trying to encourage people to make masks for themselves,” Owen said. “I took a pattern that I found online and then I modified it. People can print it to make their own or cut out patterns to donate.”
Owen said when her fabric is pre-cut, she can produce masks more quickly: roughly 50 to 60 each day.
To get a mask or to donate elastic, polyester or spandex blend material to support Owen, a no-contact drop-off can be arranged by calling or texting (517) 894-1639.