Therapists redeploy sewing machines for mask-making service during COVID-19 pandemic

by Hennepin Healthcare

IMG_5110[1]The sewing machines in Hennepin Healthcare’s Occupational Therapy Department won’t be gathering dust during the COVID-19 pandemic – thanks to the needling of a few occupational therapists. Under “normal” conditions, the therapists use sewing machines to make adaptations on splints, clothing, and other equipment for patients.

“But now they’re using them for an in-house, homemade mask operation,” explained Ruth Gromek, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Manager.

“We’re expanding the use of our sewing machines for homemade mask production, and thought this was a great way to supplement the mask donations we’ve been receiving from the public.”

Occupational Therapists are leading the team effort with help from Physical Therapists and Speech-Language Pathologists to produce masks for patients who are being discharged from the hospital and have no other mask available, as well patients on the psychiatric or rehabilitation units who are hospitalized for an extended period of time and do not require healthcare-grade masks.

“As occupational therapists, we are natural problem-solvers,” said Theresa Paulsen, OTR/L. “And it always feels rewarding to be doing something innovative and helpful.”

While the in-house operation provides a direct supply to specific areas within the hospital, it will not meet the ongoing need for masks at Hennepin Healthcare. “Donations from the public are still very much needed and very appreciated,” said Gromek.

For more information about mask donations, please go to:

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