A Rutherford County woman saw a need and has helped address it, believing that “we’re all in this together.”
As the coronavirus pandemic intensifies across the United States, reports of hospitals and other health-care providers being overwhelmed have become common. Part of the problem is a shortage of needed supplies, including face masks for those caring for the sick.
Monica Martin, owner of Mog’s Sewing and Embroidery, says as the news about the pandemic grew worse about three weeks ago, she thought perhaps she could help.
“I can sew some masks,” Martin said.
So she got to work in her shop located on Chimney Rock Road (U.S. Highway 64-74) in Rutherfordton. Martin says she follows Center For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
Martin said the masks are not a replacement for, and are not as effective as, the N-95 masks commonly used in health-care facilities.
“But they can be helpful, and make the stock of N95s last longer,” she said. “Using the homemade masks are better than using no protection at all. These can be used when health-care providers are in less risky situations. These masks can extend the supply of N-95s.”
Initially, Martin sent some masks to her daughter who lives in Portland, Oregon. That daughter works in the national research primate facility at Oregon Health Science University.
“She was glad to get them, and she gave some out to her co-workers,” Martin said.
Martin describes her masks as “closer to a surgical mask that fits closely around the chin and nose.”
Martin has given away the majority of the masks she has made, but has sold a few.
“Occasionally, a friend will offer to pay something for them, and I take that and buy more material,” she said. “But for the most part, I am doing this for free.”
Martin has made approximately 200 masks so far, and is now aiming to make 50 to 60 each week. She had used most of her stock, and recently went to Walmart for more supplies. When the store learned of what she is doing, she was presented a gift card to go toward her supplies.
Martin has sewn most of her life. About three years ago, she decided to sew commercially and began her small business, when she and her husband’s home became an “empty nest.” Mog is her childhood nickname.
Some of Martin’s masks have gone to area nursing facilities, and more will follow. A batch of masks was also sent to a hospital in Pennsylvania that was experiencing a severe shortage.
Supplies are getting harder to come by and she is now seeking quarter-inch elastic.
“These masks are made of four layers of cloth, and can be washed, bleached, and used multiple times,” Martin said.
The CDC says homemade masks are appropriate to use when N95s are not available because they do offer some protection. Ideally, they should be used in combination with a face shield, according to the CDC.
For now, Martin has no plan to stop producing the masks.
“As long as there is a need, I will do this,” Martin said. “We all have to pull together and take this seriously.”