The Life of a Donated Cloth Face Mask
BY KATIE CAVENDER
At your dining room table, you dusted off the sewing machine and pulled out unused fabric. What started as bits and pieces became a lifesaving cloth face mask. You might be wondering about the journey of donated face masks like yours, and we’re here to tell you.
Collection and inspection
After cloth face masks are brought to a Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) donation drop-off site, they are collected and delivered to LVHN Infection Control. This team inspects each donated item to make sure it’s in good condition and is safe to use. That team then determines how many masks should be delivered to each LVHN site. From there, the masks are divvied up to protect people throughout the region.
Many of the donated masks are given to LVHN colleagues who do not have direct contact with patients such as members of the technology team, people in management roles and the food service team. Some patient-facing colleagues wear a cloth mask over their surgical mask for extra protection.
“It makes us a little happier looking at flowers, pretty colors and other designs,” says Tricia Klein, RN, LVHN Patient Care Coordinator. “Also, they tend to be more comfortable.”
Select patients receive a donated face mask as well. People with cancer are at a higher risk for developing complications as a result of COVID-19. For patients who receive frequent treatments, a cloth face mask provides peace of mind. Other patients throughout the health network receive cloth face masks as well, including those in behavioral health and rehabilitation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, LVHN implemented strict visitation policy guidelines. Under special circumstances – like when a person is receiving end-of-life care – patients can have one visitor at a time. It’s recommended that those visitors bring their own face mask, but in some cases a donated face mask will be given to them.
Your donation makes a difference
It doesn’t matter which path your donated face mask takes, it helps keep our community safe. Our need for cloth face masks continues. If you have a sewing machine and materials, we encourage you to make face masks to donate. We also can use donated fabric to supply those who can sew with more fabric to make face masks. Together, we can help protect health care workers and our community during this pandemic.
To learn more about how you can help, visit LVHN.org/helpfightcovid.