Thank you for taking the time to look at this post. I hope you are all well and safe. I've had many people reaching out and offering support to our business in the last few days, and for that we are extremely grateful. Thank you for thinking of us. As many of you know, we are trying to do something (anything!) to help during this difficult time.
Like many businesses, we have switched over our manufacturing to making PPE (personal protective equipment) such as masks and isolation gowns to help the medical front lines. We have been working on this for the past week. We have reached out and been in touch with local clinics, Lakeridge Health, local medical suppliers and government procurement representatives. They all know our capabilities should the need arise. But for now, thankfully, there is no demand for non-medical masks in our hospitals.
This is really good news, because it means that we still have enough supplies coming to our hospitals that the government doesn't need non-medical masks yet, and of course we all sincerely hope that this will never become the case in the coming weeks.
However this does leave us with the question -- what can businesses like ourselves, with zero access to medical fabrics, do to make an impact in our community? We have the machines, we have workers that want to work and we have a burning desire to help wherever we can, as we all do in times like these. The overarching desire is also to be as proactive as possible. We have now been making masks for three days, and we will probably have close to 1000 made at the time of this post.
The obvious solution floating around my head in the last couple days has been to give away as many as possible to the vulnerable people in Oshawa. The idea makes complete sense -- why manufacture and stockpile masks for a worst-case scenario that will hopefully never happen (i.e. our medical institutions running out), when we can help mitigate the spread of the virus by providing simple masks to the most vulnerable people in our community? These are also the people the most likely to be impacted, since many do not have the luxury of being able to safely self-isolate. Indirectly, we can help ease the strain on our medical system if less people are getting sick in the first place. Also, it allows us to have an impact today, rather than weeks from now.
In addition, should the call to action arise from our medical providers, we will be operational and ready to help.
To help offset the costs of production and materials, we are offering these masks for sale, and hopefully you guys are able to pitch in and buy some for yourselves, knowing that for every mask you buy, we will give one mask to a local charity that works with vulnerable people in Durham Region. We will kick start this initiative by donating at least 500 masks on Wednesday April 1st March 30th to both Feed the Need Durham and the Welcoming Streets Program. If you can put me in contact with any other organizations that work with vulnerable people in our community, please let me know. Also, if you have any other suggestions for possible end-users that might be overlooked in these times, such as long term care facilities that need supplies, please also contact me. I will continue to update on the status of our donations through this blog and over email to anyone who has donated masks.
I am still in daily contact with local medical suppliers, local clinics that have reached out me, Lakeridge Health, and Government of Canada procurement representatives. I am doing everything I can to make them aware of our capabilities, and the capabilities of other GTA sewing businesses in my network. I know they will reach out if there is a need. We will always prioritize our front line workers, if that call ever came. Until it does, we will be doing whatever we can, every single day, to try to lessen their work load by keeping ourselves safe.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I hope you are all able to keep you and your family safe at this time.
A NOTE ABOUT HOW WE KEEP OURSELVES PROTECTED
To keep ourselves protected, for the last three weeks we have been wearing masks and keeping machines at least 2 meters apart, and each person only sews at their machine (which is cleaned at the end of each day). All common surfaces (bathrooms, kitchen, doorways, tables, chairs etc) are disinfected immediately after use. We are staggering breaks and lunch, so no one is using the break area at the same time.