Communities unite from afar to sew homemade masks, caps for hospitals

Posted at 4:58 PM, Mar 23, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Many people across Middle Tennessee are putting their social distancing to good use by making homemade masks for doctors and nurses.

A shortage of medical supplies has health professionals across the country scrambling to find gear to protect them in the fight against COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends homemade masks as the last resort, but health officials said they can help conserve precious resources.

June Kingsbury, a costume designer and adjunct professor at Lipscomb University, started a Facebook group called MedThreads Volunteers Nashville to unite the community and use their skills to make much needed supplies like masks.

"It provides a feeling of hope, a feeling of not being powerless and a feeling of an ability to make a difference to protect those people who are doing something to protect and take care of us," Kingsbury told NewsChannel 5.

Kingsbury connected with a wife of a Vanderbilt University Medical Center doctor who said sleeves for their masks and scrub caps were needed the most. Since the weekend, roughly 120 current members joined the Facebook group.

The respiratory masks are put inside the sleeve so providers can extend the life of the masks theyr'e using.

Kingsbury is receiving help from Lea Maitlen of Nashville Opera who said approximately 100 sleeves have already been delivered. The primary pattern being used is what the wife of a Vanderbilt doctor modified to meet their needs and have demonstrated on a YouTube video

"Even if it's a drop in the bucket, it takes all the drops to fill the bucket. If we work together, as many people are, we can make some sort of an impact," Kingsbury added.

If anyone wants to donate cloth masks to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital or Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital, email The masks can be dropped off in a plastic bin under the portico at Entrance A, Vanderbilt One Hundred Oaks between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

More details including instructions on how to make the masks can be found in this link.

JOANN Fabrics has also joined the effort to help medical professionals by providing free tools and guidance to make supplies for hospitals. To learn more, click on this link.