This year’s nurses’ month is very special. Throughout the global coronavirus pandemic, hospitals experienced an extreme shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Among the most affected by this shortage are nurses, who are most often in contact with patients. This month, we would like to pay tribute to our nurses and everything they’ve done!
As early as March when the epidemic was the worst, a group of our Bridge Road International (BRI) Foundation’s students (Heidi Wang, Skylar Qian, Erica Zhao, Susie Chen, Austin Li, Raymond Qian, Vivian Xiang, Ann Qi Zhou) and volunteer parents started sewing masks by hand. Because of the extreme shortage of disposable masks, medical staff are only issued one per day, and even N95 masks need to be disinfected and reused. In addition, in order to effectively stop the spread of the virus the United States government advocates that everyone in the country needs to wear a mask. Seeing the need for face masks in this situation, the volunteers stepped up to work, and the homemade masks sewn with care and love were born.
The students also carefully designed masks with a layered design. Putting special filter sheets between layers of cloth can block viruses and perform the same function as medical masks. The cloth masks they made have a double-layer structure, with a soft inner layer that is comfortable to wear and easy to clean. Loved by everyone, these cloth masks were happily received by all they were given to.
When they delivered the masks to the nurses, the students learned that nurses lacked the protection of nurse caps. Fearing the pervasiveness of the virus, the nurses went home every day and painstakingly washed their hair. Many nurses bought shower caps as an alternative, but these were not breathable and were easily broken. After learning of this need, the students studied the making of nurse caps. When the first batches went out, these caps were warmly welcomed by the nurses! With a long waiting list, these volunteers quickly stepped up to make more.
For many students, this was their first time using sewing machines, electric irons, and overlock edge finishing machines. However, the needs of our medical staff were a powerful driving force for the students’ rapid learning and growth. Each mask and hat were meticulously sewn together, taking 6-7 hours to create at the start, one to two hours later, and even later as they became more proficient, every volunteer’s time and love gave them the ability of a small manufacturing center. These new caps allowed nurses to continue fighting off the virus, also helping to brighten their appearance and improving their mood. With everyone’s combined efforts and the support of the students, the road ahead seems much brighter!
The student-made masks and nurse caps were distributed to doctors in New York and Michigan, to the seniors of the senior center in San Francisco, and to nurses in dozens of hospitals in the Bay Area, at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley, Kaiser in Fremont, El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Kaiser in Redwood City, O'Connor Hospital, Kaiser in Santa Clara, Stanford Hospital, San Leandro Hospital, Washington Hospital in Fremont, Kaiser in San Francisco and many more.
Although the coronavirus pandemic is difficult to fight against, together we will prevail! With our combined efforts, nurses fight on with the protection given by the student-made face masks and caps. Together, we are stronger!
We wish all nurses a happy nurses’ month!