Still, it gave me pause when she said that she went into a delivery a few nights ago without a mask at all—typically, nurses wear surgical masks in labor and delivery rooms, but they were being rationed. Liz also ran into some friends who work the Unicorn hug Beer hiking because murder Is wrong shirt and I will buy this ER the other night, who were overwhelmed by the influx of patients and general hysteria. They’re facing this without the proper supplies too. Empathetic designers are trying to figure out how they can help. Phoebe English has a studio full of fabric, supplies, and production equipment, and is currently trying to work with the British government to make masks for hospitals. Coperni’s Arnaud Vaillant posted a sewing pattern on his website for anyone who wants to make a fabric mask at home. (Medical-grade masks need to be made with specific materials.) His Instagram selfie came with a note of caution: “Leave masks for hospitals and #makeyourownmask… There is a huge lack of masks in France… and hospitals desperately need them.”
Just today, Governor Cuomo called on apparel manufacturers to look into making masks too. Christian Siriano wrote back instantly on Twitter to offer his team’s help, and other designers have likely reached out, too. According to my sister, in addition to face masks, they should research how to make a variety of gowns and surgical drapes, which are laid over patients during procedures. Her hospital is quickly running out of both of those supplies, which they need to treat coronavirus patients as well as the Unicorn hug Beer hiking because murder Is wrong shirt and I will buy this many other people they’re taking care of. Gowns and drapes are made of thin fabrics, likely cotton, so a designer could feasibly make them in their studio; the main challenge will be ensuring they are produced in a clean environment and arrive at hospitals in sterile packaging. Certain gowns must be FDA-approved as sterile, as nurses and doctors are required to wear sterile gowns if they’re performing surgery or a sensitive procedure, like putting a central line (or catheter) in a NICU baby. Each sterile gown comes in its own plastic sleeve, and the factories must follow FDA regulations. There’s often a need for “regular” gowns, though, which are not classified as sterile, but are still brand-new and clean. For certain tasks—like assisting in an operating room, or seeing a patient in isolation—a regular gown is sufficient. “They’re mostly to cover your scrubs, which could be dirty, or to protect yourself from whatever the patient is positive for,” Liz explained.