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Community members in Ventura County make protective gear for health care workers

Community members in Ventura County help make protective gear for doctors and nurses.
Alexa Coughlin owner at RAT BOI holding up a handmade mask
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VENTURA, Calif. - As hospitals across Ventura County anticipate a possible surge of the coronavirus, supplies to protect health officials are in need. The community is now stepping in to help provide protective gear across the county.

Like so many around the world, Ventura County doctors and nurses don’t have enough protective gear against the Coronavirus.

“We really don’t know what the surge is going to look like,” said Amy Towner, who is the Chief Executive Officer at Health Care Foundation for Ventura County. “It appears that we can be going through an excess of 3,000 PPE (personal protective equipment) mask a day.”

Now, some help is coming from an unlikely source.

“When the call to action came out for these sewn cotton masks, I originally went to the 15 Baby Brigade ladies and it started there,” said Towner. “From there the word spread and within 48 hours we had over 200 men and women who were willing to sew.”

The Health Care Foundation of Ventura County has a sewing group that's made nearly 100 masks so far.

“These can also be used as a cover for the P95,” said Towner. “It fits really low on the neck and very high on the nose. This is two ply of cotton or a cotton poly blend, and that is best as we can do because a lot of the products are not readily available. We don’t want people driving around finding products. We want to access all the products that will be in someone home.”

Local high school students are also using 3D printers to create a protective face shield for hospital staffers.

“My son and I identified that we needed face shields and so we then were able to 3D print the head band and we used a laminated shield to make the clear part,” said Sharon Waechter, who is the nursing manager of nursing education at Ventura County Medical Center. “We worked in collaboration with the Ventura Unified School District STEMbassadros and we have been able to produce these to collaborate with a bunch of 3D printers here in our community.”
    
This group plans to make 500 face shields.

“These shields are used for trauma and for surgery,” said Waechter. “They are also being used as our air precaution for our COVID-19 positive patient investigation. During a typical day we are using anywhere from between 50-100 of these shields.”

All volunteers throughout the community that are helping produce the protective gear is working at home practicing their social distancing.

“This project is really showing the heart of our community,” said Towne. “It is showing us coming together like we have seen in other disasters and we are taking care of each other.”

If you would like information on how to help provide more mask, or donations of PPE, you can email Amy Towne.

Coronavirus / Ventura County

Senerey de los Santos

Senerey de los Santos is a multimedia journalist for KEYT | KCOY | KKFX covering primarily Ventura County.