By CRISTINA JANNEY
Members of the Wonder Women League are sewing to protect our heroes at HaysMed.
About seven members of the group are making washable, cloth face masks and headbands to supplement personal protective equipment at the hospital.
The hospital has 600 nurses alone, according to Nikki Mihm, volunteer coordinator.
According to Rep. Roger Marshall's office using modeling, Ellis County could expect 48 to 99 hospital admissions and six to nine deaths due to the coronavirus.
All of the material for the project has been donated, said Rhonda Meyerhoff, WWL co-chair, although HaysMed provided some elastic for the masks.
"This is a huge purpose," Meyerhoff said. "I want us all to be safe. I want all of our front-line medical staff to not get [the coronavirus] and to be able to go home at the end of all this back to their families."
Meyerhoff said she felt working on this project is distracting her from the chaos all around her and the virus that she can't control.
"I feel in some way I am helping," she said. "If it just saves one person, all of the time and effort is worth it."
The headbands will have large buttons on both sides to which nurses and doctors can hook their face masks to save irritation on their ears.
The headbands are being made with donated gently used, laundered T-shirt material.
HaysMed is only accepting masks made of heavier quilt material and only a specified pattern. Any other donated masks are being given to area clinics and support staff.
Seven women from the group are working on the project — some cutting fabric, some machine sewing and others hand sewing buttons on the headbands.
The women are moving materials back and forth through no-contact procedures.
Meyerhoff acknowledged many other volunteers in the community are also sewing PPE for medical providers and WWL is just a small part of a much greater effort to protect the area's medical professionals.
"The way I look at it," Meyerhoff said, "if I was in the hospital, I would want them to have a mask that was clean and safe or, if my husband was in the hospital, I would want them to be safe.
"We are not just doing it for the nurses. We are doing it for the patients too."
The WWL is still looking for volunteers to help them in making the PPE. Those interested in volunteering can contact Cristina Janney, who is also a WWL member, at email@example.com.
The project organizers are also looking for button donations. The buttons must be 5/8 inch or larger.
The group hopes to have its first set of PPE to HaysMed by April 13. The items will be sterilized before they are given to staff.
"Every mask, every headband counts," Meyerhoff said.
Wonder Women League is a nonprofit group that is under the umbrella of the United Way. They support projects that support children and families in the Ellis County.
The coronavirus outbreak has forced the group to put several of its pending community projects on hold. Meyerhoff said this project is a way the WWL women can continue to give back in this time of crisis.
In addition to the mask project, the WWL also made a small donation to help members of the community with persistent mental illness with groceries. Terri Braun spearheaded that effort.
Disclosure: Cristina Janney is a member of the Wonder Women League.