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SEARHC Supports Homemade Mask Donation Program

SITKA – The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and the Healing Hand Foundation echoed a nationwide call to action to crafters to produce handmade surgical masks for donation to SEARHC facilities as part of the coronavirus (COVID-19) response.While SEARHC leadership has stated that their personal protective equipment (PPE) quantities are currently sufficient across the region, SEARHC is hoping crafters currently sheltered-in-place would welcome the opportunity to help.

SEARHC and the Healing Hand Foundation is proud to work with volunteer groups, such as Southeast Alaska Mask Makers, and supportive of their missions. While SEARHC facilities are currently closed to visitors to reduce close contact and contamination, the volunteer group has identified community coordinators to pick-up completed masks or off-site drop-off locations in Southeast communities.

“While homemade masks are not a viable replacement option for N95 masks, we at SEARHC recognize the benefit of supplementing our supply of masks that we use for patients,” said SEARHC Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elliot Bruhl. “There are opportunities to use these homemade masks for patients, potentially preserving our supply.”

N95 masks are approved respiratory PPE by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), properly fitted and constructed to protect from airborne particles. Homemade masks are considered surgical masks, which are not CDC approved as they are not effective in filtering small particles typically transmitted through coughs or sneezes, including COVID-19. When worn, these homemade masks could discourage touching of the face and protect from contact with liquids. Homemade cloth masks could be properly laundered for reuse.

For more information, to make a donation, or to join the volunteer group, follow Southeast Alaska Mask Makers on facebook, or contact the Healing Hand Foundation at www.hhf-ak.org/ppe/.