Masks made by mom

Bronx resident Marilyn Rosales tries out this washable cloth mask made by a mother for her daughter

By Lindy Rosales

Anna de Jesus* works in the dialysis center of one of the acute care hospitals in the Bronx.

Amid the deadly Covid-19 epidemic, she discovered she could do something other than extend direct medical treatment to her patients. She can make face masks! She spent her precious days-off manufacturing cloth masks using her trusty sewing machine.

It all started when Anna got a text from her daughter, a registered nurse at a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The message was that her daughter was supposed to take care of a baby with possible Covid-19 but the doctor did not want to give her an N-95 face mask. She had to use a regular surgical mask made of paper that does not provide adequate protection because it is loose around the face.

The message made Anna upset.  Her daughter is what is known as “immunocompromised,” or one who has an impaired immune system. She continues to work despite the pandemic, and is categorized as belonging to the vulnerable populations.

Anna brainstormed how she could replicate the N-95 face masks which give better protection than a regular paper mask. She ordered a hospital filter from Amazon, dismantled it, used the filter and then bought the rest of the materials. 

“I made the filter removable so the face masks can be washed,” said Anna.   

Materials purchased from Amazon
Sewn with care
Ready to give away to friends and whoever needs them

She was disappointed that her daughter’s hospital appeared to be stingy with N-95 masks but could understand that cost may be an issue. She learned from her manager that 50 pieces of N-95 cost $1,200.

Dialysis centers are not in-patient care units where nursing care is provided 24 hours a day. Hemodialysis are out-patient procedures where patients come in usually three times a week for their dialysis and stay hooked on the machines for 3 to 4 hours, depending on their treatments. The patient is sent home after that. Sometimes they do have patients that are on isolation for certain medical conditions and that is when nurses need to use N-95 respirators.

“I told my manager I’m going to make some masks, no monetary gain. I just want to protect my family, myself and my co-workers so we can work safely,” said Anna.

Anna’s son took the pictures while his mom sewed the masks.

“I don’t want to put a price on it,” she said. “I just get the materials and I’m sewing it myself.”

Her husband warned she might face some repercussions from producing “homemade” masks. Anna brushed his concerns aside, saying she is not making money off them.

“I told my co-workers it’s up to them if they want to use my mask. They’re a lot better than the paper surgical masks,” she said.

Anna’s facility had its first patient with Covid-19 last week, but unfortunately they were not aware of the diagnosis until after the patient had completed treatment. One of their co-workers is now on self-quarantine. There are reports of nurses who are on self-isolation following exposure to Covid-19 patients.

Anna* has requested that her identity be kept private because of confidentiality concerns. She goes back to work this week bringing some masks for her colleagues to try.

© The FilAm 2020

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