Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are shortages for a number of items in the healthcare community, including isolation gowns, intended to protect both patients and healthcare employees. Sewing 4 Good, a not-for-profit volunteer-run program, has stepped up to help.
Shanti Dickson, Director of Sewing 4 Good, has been building this gown production project for about a month. Her husband, Todd, owns two medical device companies, including Lumenous Device Technologies, based in Santa Clara.
“Lumenous was approached by the Lieutenant Governor’s office with a list of medical supplies, specifically for COVID-19, that are critically low,” Dickson said. “Normally this business produces medical devices, mostly vascular, or for the heart. We decided that we could launch a not-for-profit project with volunteer sewers producing emergency isolation gowns.”
About 150 volunteers from all over the Greater Bay Area, which include Dickson’s friends, as well as a collective in Cambria and Topson Downs, a garment factory in Los Angeles, have been assisting Sewing 4 Good.
Sewing 4 Good’s goal is to produce isolation gowns right now while the supply chain for personal protective equipment is low. Production has already begun. So far, Sewing 4 Good has received orders from all over the country for over 10,000 gowns.
“I just talked to a doctor in New York who told me that she and her staff have been wearing plastic bags, so we are preparing an order for them right now,” Dickson said. “We have had requests from workers who didn’t need gowns before who need gowns now, such as social workers.”
Some local recipients of gowns include Mills-Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame, Santa Clara County Social Workers, Regional Medical Center in San Jose and Kaiser Permanente Donation Center in Livermore.
Dickson explained how Sewing 4 Good’s operations adhere to social distancing rules and promotes a system where sewing volunteers can stay at home.
“Lumenous is still operating because it’s making essential medical equipment,” Dickson said. “We have to be careful for our own sake and the sake of the employees at Lumenous. Sewing 4 Good’s materials distribution operation is outside and we’re all in masks and gloves and maintaining six-feet separation.”
Representatives of clinics and hospitals that need isolation gowns, interested volunteers and donors can visit www.sewing4good.org.
“We hope to find volunteers of all types — sewers, drivers, hospital liaisons, accountants, inventory managers, people who can cut fabrics and people who can lift heavy things,” Dickson said. “The River Church community gave us a starting seed grant of $5,000 and they are accepting tax-deductible donations on our behalf.”
“It’s critical that, as a community, we come together during times like this,” said Jeannette Weedermann, a coordinator and a distribution volunteer.