A desire to relieve the stress on the Sarah Bush Lincoln Purchasing Department to find enough gowns to protect its employees has fueled employees to make their own gowns.
Sheri Oakley, SBL Sterile Processing manager reached out to Horizon Health in Paris after seeing a Facebook post about how the staff in Paris was making its own gowns from plastic material.
“I contacted Horizon Health and they gave me one of their homemade gowns. I cut it apart and, with my son’s help, we drew a pattern on cardboard and cut it out. Finding the right plastic to use was a little bit harder,” she explained.
Oakley explored several different types of plastic, but getting it the right thickness and the right width presented some difficulties. “I finally reached out to Cadillac Products Packaging Company in Paris, which supplied the plastic to Horizon Health,” Oakley said.
“The company was so gracious. It agreed to donate plastic to us because several of its employees use our services. I was only expecting one roll of plastic, and then they called back and thought they could give us three rolls and then it was six rolls. We think we can make about 3,000 gowns from this. It’s just an incredible gesture!” Oakley said.
SBL Facility Services provided a corrugated board to cut a sturdier pattern and set up the “manufacturing room” in vacated space in the Health Center. The sleeves of the gowns are taped together with double-sided carpet tape. The team hopes to make about 100 gowns a day.
The gowns, made from 2 mm plastic are perfect to wear in isolation rooms, the Emergency Department, while screening people and for one-time uses. They will not be used in controlled sterile places like the operating room. “Our goal is to save the sterile gowns for use during surgeries and use these in other places to preserve our supply. These will keep our staff members safe,” she added.
Oakley also began making face masks in April from Sterile Processing materials, and so far, her team of seamstresses have made nearly two thousand masks.
Pictured are Audiologists Abby Wright and Marisa Overton holding the gown pattern and modeling the finished products. BJ Quast has also assisted the team.