CKHA healthcare workers cannot wear homemade cloth masks

Windsor Regional Hospital employee demonstrates how to put on personal protective equipment for infectious disease control. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

If you’re making homemade cloth masks to protect healthcare workers during the COVID-19 outbreak, save yourself the trouble.

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance tells Blackburn News that masks sewn together at home cannot be used by healthcare workers and will only be used by hospital patients as a last resort.

“Handmade masks are for patient use online,” said Fannie Vavoulis, director of communications at CKHA. “They would be a last-resort option, and will only be used for patients. The use of handmade masks is consistent with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S.) in exceptional circumstances.”

A Facebook group called Masks for Healthcare Workers Essex Kent Counties – Covid was set up on Monday after news that personal protective equipment is in short supply around the world. Some in the group said they have already made dozens of masks.

Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, said masks used by healthcare workers would have to be certified and up to standard and not homemade, even if the intentions are good.

“It is amazing to see the community come together – it really is. But we absolutely cannot use them for our staff,” added Vavoulis.

Meanwhile, Chatham-Kent Economic Development is reporting last week’s call to local manufacturers to make 3-D plastic face shields to help protect doctors, nurses, and frontline emergency responders during the COVID-19 pandemic was very well received. Andrew Tompsett, Marketing and Communications Officer, said more than a dozen businesses and organizations across the community answered the call to action.

“The response online has been simply amazing and is even more proof that the people of Chatham-Kent are always willing to work together, even if we have to be physically distant,” said Tompsett. “The conversations happening on our Facebook page around the request for help with 3D printing has been very positive and is refreshing to see in a time when things are challenging for everyone.”

Tompsett thanked everyone who filled out the survey and those who helped to share the message and make sure people knew about the survey. If there are more companies and organizations that would like to assist with the project, they can visit www.investck.ca and complete the online survey.

3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The Glia Project provides the open-source files needed to print face shields. Glia open-source face shield is used to protect users from droplet exposure, and can be created with a 3-D printer and basic supplies: https://glia.org/covid-19/.