There’s a nationwide shortage of hospital surgical gowns and Florida Keys hospitals have not been spared. No surgical gowns could mean delays in important surgical interventions. So when Emergency Management Logistics received an urgent request from a local hospital running low and unable to find cloth surgical gowns, the logistics’ team started thinking outside the box and began figuring out how to have them handmade locally.
Cynthia Hall, Emergency Management’s Logistics Section Chief, enlisted Monroe County Emergency Reserve Corps (MERC), the volunteer organization that supports Emergency Management in Monroe County, to begin tracking down tailors, seamstresses, and sewing machines.
Frances Shockley, in logistics, researched materials that are both water-resistant and comfortable enough to wear and ordered a type of nylon fabric normally used for tents. Four MERC volunteers, Lynn Riley, Edie Primavera, Barb Hormuth, and Heidi Morris, and three independent volunteers Curtis Noon, Vendy McBride, and Carolyn Cicalese, whose pre-COVID-19 projects included quilts, custom outdoor cushions, and boat canvas, are using their skills to create patterns and sew 250 gowns, which can be reused after being washed or processed through a UV light sanitizing system.
“The seamstresses and tailors are really the heart of this operation, making the vision come true for all of our healthcare workers,” said Shockley.