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With A National Protective Equipment Shortage Looming, Residents and Volunteers Turn to Homemade Masks to Protect Team Members
March 25, 2020
We find ourselves in uncharted waters, as we watch the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the world. Our communities have taken a variety of preventive and precautionary measures, in the interest of the health and safety of all residents. At the same time, Westminster Communities of Florida isn’t alone in a struggle to obtain personal protective equipment like masks and gloves, to ensure the safety of team members and residents.
But we have a few guardian angels looking out for us. Our communities have been given hundreds of handmade, cloth masks for our team members and residents to use. These amazing donations have come from all around the state, from residents, church groups, team members’ families, and more, and they may truly save lives.
“I saw a piece on Facebook, from a hospital in Oklahoma that was asking for donations, and I thought, ‘I can do that! I have a sewing machine and now I have plenty of time,’ ” said Lynn Jensen, a resident at Jefferson Center. Jensen first made a mask for herself, but now she’s expanding her production. “The first ones were brightly colored, coastal, Sarasota fabric I had, but now I’m making them to fit people’s personalities,” she added.
Jensen said that making protective masks is a way of helping all of the other residents. “We are a community here, and there are people who can’t make them and can’t get them. Plus it feels good to do it, you know?”
Just up the Gulf Coast in Bradenton, the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Bobbi Blackburn, was having a similar conversation with a quilting group. One member of Trinity Lutheran is Susan Shoffstall, Health Services Administrator at Westminster Suncoast in St. Petersburg. Shoffstall mentioned her community’s challenge in obtaining protective equipment, and Blackburn reached out to the church’s quilting group. Within a day, the church had provided 165 masks! “I thanked them all, from a safe distance, and let them know what an incredible gift they were giving us. It was very hard to put into words how overwhelmingly wonderful this was.”
Other groups of residents, team members and volunteers working together have popped up all over the state. Westminster Manor Director of Nursing Jamie Sullivan and her family made 30 masks over the weekend, with brightly colored fabrics and using a pattern she found online. Meanwhile, at Westminster Winter Park, Health Resource Nurse Wendy Levitt Gashlin asked her son’s family to help. In Tallahassee, Westminster Oaks resident Patricia Applegate, an experienced seamstress with years of theatrical costume production, is experimenting with three patterns to see what suits residents best, and has already made more than 25 masks. “I can do anywhere between 10 and 20 masks a day, once we find the right pattern,” Applegate said.
We have so many more people to thank, who are already working to help — residents, volunteers and team members. How blessed we are for their dedication!
Please join us in praying for the continued health and safety of all of our staff and residents, and the whole world. To learn more about the preventive and precautionary measures we’ve taken, and the latest news from Westminster Communities of Florida, visit our coronavirus (COVID-19) news page.