Bartels Hall hosts surgical mask-sewing effort

Cornell University
26-Mar-2020 1:05 PM EDT, by Cornell University

Newswise — On Cornell’s Ithaca campus this week, in the midst of a spring semester suddenly interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic that has emptied dorms, classrooms and community spaces, a basketball court in Bartels Hall stirred to life with a new, urgent mission and two dozen volunteers.

Beginning early Tuesday morning, stationed at sewing machines on tables spaced apart to observe safe social distancing guidelines, community members launched a coordinated sewing effort to produce surgical masks for Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca. The hospital, like many others across the country, is facing looming shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Carol O’Driscoll, director of surgical services for CMC, said hospital officials had been aware for a while that a long-term shortage of medical supplies was likely as the coronavirus spread, especially since many of the needed supplies are manufactured in China. The hospital already had begun reducing the use of certain supplies as much as possible.

O’Driscoll said she had what her kids are calling her “Scarlett O’Hara moment” – referring to the “Gone With the Wind” character’s crafting a gown out of draperies – when she was walking in a hospital hallway and saw the bags of upcycled surgical instrument “blue wrap” that a CMC program had been turning into blankets for the homeless in Ithaca.

“I thought, if we can sew blankets, we can sew masks,” she said.

After doing some research, she found out that the blue wrap – of which there is not currently a shortage – had the required permeability for surgical mask standards. She asked a few of her recovery room nurses who could sew to create a prototype.

“We brought this forward to our senior leadership, and a few people reached out in the community to find a place to do this sewing,” she said. Current social distancing requirements in the face of the pandemic meant that there was no space in the hospital that would suffice to be able to produce the quantities that would be needed, as sewing machines and tables would be limited to one volunteer each with proper spacing between.

Several CMC staffers and administrators had connections to Cornell staff, and university leaders were quickly on the case.

Ryan Lombardi, Cornell’s vice president for student and campus life, consulted with facilities staff and athletics leadership.

“Our first thought was that Cornell has big spaces that aren’t being used right now,” he said. They quickly decided on one of the Bartels Hall side practice courts, with good floor space and easy access to restrooms, to set up the operation.

“It was a no-brainer,” added Matthew Coats, associate director of athletics for internal operations, who helped procure and arrange for the transformation of the court.

The space was set up on Monday; meanwhile, O’Driscoll put out a call for volunteers through local Facebook sewing and quilters’ groups. Twenty volunteers – 10 fabric cutters and 10 sewers – turned out 300 masks on the first day of operation, “which is phenomenal,” she said.

Another Cornell connection – this one through the College of Human Ecology’s Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design – is expected to ramp up the surgical mask efforts even more. Kim Phoenix, a lecturer in FSAD, is one of O’Driscoll’s volunteer sewers and contacted Charles Beach Jr., supervisor of the college’s Digital Design and Fabrication Studio, to request that he laser cut all the surgical mask patterns, saving volunteer cutters’ time and allowing all tables in Bartels to be used as sewing stations.

“I am glad to be able to do something to help,” Phoenix said Wednesday during a brief break from sewing. “I have a son who is a firefighter and a daughter who is a physical therapist (both in Montana), and both of them are working through this. I just couldn’t stay home knowing those in the front line need help.”

With the mask patterns being laser cut, the sewing capacity at Bartels could eventually increase to 60 tables and nearly 1,000 masks produced per day, O’Driscoll said, “which would be enormous for our entire community. Not just at hospitals, where now everyone is wearing masks, but the nursing homes, the physicians’ offices, the baggers at Wegmans; all of these people are asking for masks. We feel we could make a huge contribution in distributing these.”

O’Driscoll also is researching whether any of the sewing stations could eventually also be used to produce surgical gowns if the proper type of material can be obtained.

Sewing volunteers sought

The CMC effort at Bartels is seeking volunteers; O’Driscoll said that a basic knowledge of sewing machines is all that is needed, and the pattern is fairly quick to learn. Anyone interested in volunteering should email CMC’s Michelle Vellake. All volunteers will need a quick medical screening in order to enter Bartels Hall.

There also is a growing volunteer effort for people who can sew surgical masks at home for donation to hospitals, O’Driscoll said. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines indicate that masks must be double-layer cotton and tightly woven. Contact O’Driscoll for more information about making masks at home. Completed masks, which will be brought to CMC and sterilized, can be dropped off at Bartels Hall between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays.

For more information on COVID-19, visit the university’s coronavirus resources and updates webpage and related Chronicle stories here.




Filters close

Showing results

110 of 1993
Released: 29-May-2020 6:50 AM EDT
Those with IDD more likely to die from COVID-19, study shows
Syracuse University

A new study published recently in ScienceDirect by researchers from Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical University shows that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are more likely to die from COVID-19 than those without IDD.

Newswise: Invention by a Finnish start-up speeds up coronavirus testing
Released: 29-May-2020 6:25 AM EDT
Invention by a Finnish start-up speeds up coronavirus testing
Aalto University

An Aalto University spinoff company has come up with a way to use existing lab microscopes in a completely new and much more effective way with their innovation of nanocoated glass. While this is very relevant to covid19 research, it holds great promise for many other viruses and diseases

Newswise: Tourism: what’s our new normal?
Released: 29-May-2020 6:20 AM EDT
Tourism: what’s our new normal?
University of South Australia

After months of lockdown, it’s no surprise that people are itching to get out and about. But with ongoing debates about how and when to open Australia’s state and territory borders, it’s hard to know what to expect.

Newswise: Calibrated approach to AI and deep learning models could more reliably diagnose and treat disease
Released: 29-May-2020 6:05 AM EDT
Calibrated approach to AI and deep learning models could more reliably diagnose and treat disease
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

In a recent preprint (available through Cornell University’s open access website arXiv), a team led by a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory computer scientist proposes a novel deep learning approach aimed at improving the reliability of classifier models designed for predicting disease types from diagnostic images, with an additional goal of enabling interpretability by a medical expert without sacrificing accuracy. The approach uses a concept called confidence calibration, which systematically adjusts the model’s predictions to match the human expert’s expectations in the real world.

Newswise: Researchers Develop Experimental Rapid COVID-19 Test Using Innovative Nanoparticle Technique
Released: 28-May-2020 6:35 PM EDT
Researchers Develop Experimental Rapid COVID-19 Test Using Innovative Nanoparticle Technique
University of Maryland Medical Center

Scientists from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) developed an experimental diagnostic test for COVID-19 that can visually detect the presence of the virus in 10 minutes. It uses a simple assay containing plasmonic gold nanoparticles to detect a color change when the virus is present. The test does not require the use of any advanced laboratory techniques, such as those commonly used to amplify DNA, for analysis. The authors published their work last week in the American Chemical Society’s nanotechnology journal ACS Nano.

Released: 28-May-2020 6:05 PM EDT
Tackling airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors
University of Surrey

Preventing airborne transmission of Covid-19 should be the next front of the battle against the virus, argue experts from the University of Surrey.

access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 1-Jun-2020 11:00 AM EDT Released to reporters: 28-May-2020 5:40 PM EDT

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 1-Jun-2020 11:00 AM EDT The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

Released: 28-May-2020 5:10 PM EDT
Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association

Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Newswise: fimmu-11-01208-g001.jpg
Released: 28-May-2020 4:45 PM EDT
Genetics May Explain High COVID-19 Mortality in Italy, Inform Global Pandemic Response
Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO)

On March 11th 2020 the World Health Organization declared Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a pandemic.

Released: 28-May-2020 3:55 PM EDT
Finding working capital is key to small businesses efforts as reopening accelerates
RAND Corporation

As small businesses reopen after a lengthy pandemic shutdown, one key challenge will be finding working capital to replenish inventories and pay employees until revenue returns to normal, according to a new RAND Corporation perspective based on interviews with a select group of small business owners.


Showing results

110 of 1993

close
1.33991