Days after beginning to work remotely in mid-March, Albright College’s Associate Professor of Theatre and Fashion and Costume Shop Coordinator, Paula Trimpey, M.F.A., heard that supplies for nurses were already in critical supply. So she fired up her sewing machine and began making face masks for anyone who asked. Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Christian S. Hamann, Ph.D., took up the charge of sterilizing the masks.
“It started with a theatre alumnus who wanted some for a family member with a compromised immune system and went on to many, many friends and family members,” said Trimpey. So far, the masks have gone to a Doctor of Pharmacology at John Hopkins in Baltimore, a nurse at the Reading Dialysis Unit, Albright College Public Safety and Aramark Food Services at Albright, said Trimpey.
“We use 100% cotton with a high thread count since this also bleaches well. The ties allow for any size face/head where elastic masks can sag on small faces/heads.”
On April 3, Governor Tom Wolf called for all Pennsylvanians to wear masks when venturing away from home, but to reserve surgical and medical mask for health care workers and first responders.
“Masks help prevent people from sharing illnesses,” said Wolf. “But, they don’t do a great job at keeping people from getting sick; and, they’re not foolproof, so it is critical that our first act is to ask ourselves if we really need to leave our house. If we don’t really, truly need to leave, then we shouldn’t.”
To help others create homemade masks, Trimpey and Hamann created a series of five “how-to” videos, showing the full process, from cutting patterns to sterilizing finished masks.