PMKCA to the COVID-19 Rescue
This pandemic caught America off-guard. Or poorly-prepared, take your pick. One particular shortcoming was an inadequate supply of medical masks. Hospitals and first responders need both high-efficiency filtration masks (called N-95's, used when dealing with virus patients) and procedure masks (typically worn during surgeries and other medical procedures). In a normal situation, such masks are one-use discards. But none of the hospitals on our island have a big enough inventory of either of these masks to last long if there is a serious outbreak of Covid-19 here. The federal emergency stockpile is dwindling fast. The commercial supply chain can't meet the current demand, let alone a much bigger possible future demand. Thus medical workers everywhere are staring down the barrel of a BIG virus exposure problem.
So... enter the volunteers! PMKCA's Jami Sales and her cousin Marlene Simpson saw this coming and leaped into action, recruiting over 50 volunteers inside and outside PMKCA to get fabric, cut it into the right patterns, sew masks, and get them out to our hospitals. To date, over 3,000 masks have been made, and are being donated to Hale Ho'ola Hamakua, North Hawaii Community Hospital, and the Hilo Medical Center and The Hamakua Health center and their satellite clinics. In coming weeks these volunteers also will be making masks where needed for every front-line service provider along our coastline – postal workers, firemen, police, bank and grocery workers.
Two styles are being made:
Some fabric has been donated to the project, but most was purchased by donations from individual PMKCA members, so please consider contributing to PMKCA’s mask project to help fund future expenses. You can do that right here. Also, we could use more people with (even elementary) sewing skills, and can even loan them a machine. All materials will be provided, patterns cut and ready to be sewn. If you can help, please contact Jami at BigIslandMasks@gmail.com .
This effort has been a truly heartwarming outpouring of goodwill from friends and neighbors both inside and outside of PMKCA. For example, United Airlines ground staff at Kona airport – with some free time created by much-reduced air travel – cut out a lot of mask patterns from fabric. Honokaa’s SewFun group has stitched together over 600 masks so far and is continuing to work away at it. Many other volunteers are doing cutting and stitching and transporting. Some wonderful photos of these volunteers are below.