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Small business owner halts production to help amid national mask shortage

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Brynn Band masks

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- Calling all sewers, that's the request UnityPoint put out last week as they looked to the community to help fill the need for fabric masks amid a national shortfall.

So far, Unity Point Chief Medical Officer, Dustin Arnold said the hospital has received around 5,000 donated masks from the community.

Every hospital has a different requirement, however, Unity Point requested Olson masks.

As more people stay home and self-isolate, small business owners have begun to feel the impacts and some have decided to put their skills to use to help in the fight against the pandemic.

Owner of BrynnBand, an online accessory store that sells handmade products, Kristin Verhorevoort said she wanted to help make a difference.

"It's kind of a weird time for all of us all business owners, we are feeling the changes of other people losing their jobs during this time, too. So it's kind of a weird time for all of us with sales. And I kind of felt like my hands were idle during this time," said Verhorevoort.

Instead of letting her hands stay idle, Verhorevoort felt inspired to do her part as clients and family tagged her in a post online.

UnityPoint had put out a request to the community asking for help to stay prepared.

"Our hope is that we won’t need them, but we must plan for the unknown. Fabric masks offer the benefit of being able to be washed and re-used as each healthcare worker will need to change their mask several times during their shifts, as the mask becomes soiled or damp – for maximum protection," read a UnityPoint press release.

UnityPoint Hospitals put out a call for donated face masks

Calling all sewers — UnityPoint put out all call last week asking for donations of Olson fabric masks to help amid a national shortage. Tonight at 5 & 6 hear from a small business owner who put her production on hold to help the cause. Have you helped donate or volunteer during this time?

Posted by KWWL on Thursday, March 26, 2020

"They definitely were on board with giving as many donations as they could. What I liked about Unity Point though too is that they are providing the filters and the elastics for the masks, which in this time elastics are in short supply," said Verhorevoort.

UnityPoint has specifically requested the Olson design pattern, which includes a pocket where disposable filters can be placed.

“The filter that goes in there as directed, will filter down to the microns that are acceptable to prevent the transmission of the contagion,” said Arnold during the Linn County news conferences today.

The hospital has even provided a DIY video, and downloadable pattern design to make the process easier. (Click here)

Verhorevoort said she had a bit of a learning curve, her mother, an employee with UnityPoint held her with technique over facetime.

"I want her to be protected and I would hate for the day when she doesn't have a mask and she feels she needs a mask," said Verhorevoort.

UnityPoint Hospitals put out a call for donated face masks

Calling all sewers — UnityPoint put out all call last week asking for donations of Olson fabric masks to help amid a national shortage. Tonight at 5 & 6 hear from a small business owner who put her production on hold to help the cause. Have you helped donate or volunteer during this time?

Posted by KWWL on Thursday, March 26, 2020

After announcing her efforts online, nurses from across the country have reached out to try to get one for themselves.

"I was able to send out I think it was about 25 different masks around the nation to other people who need them to so maybe their hospitals haven't rallied behind the masks yet but they still want to have something to feel protected," Verhorevoort.

Hospitals use UV lights to sanitize the masks as it's advised not to get them wet.

Completed masks can be dropped at the Saint Luke's Foundation in Cedar Rapids at 855 A Ave. NE, Suite 105. It is located in a medical office building across from St. Luke’s Hospital.

This building is open on the weekends from 9 - 11 a.m. and during regular business hours weekdays. There will be a box near the Foundation for the masks to be dropped off.

Allen Hospital in Waterloo is also accepting mask donations.

Kristin Verhorevoort, owner of Brynn Band

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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