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North Canyon Medical Center receives hundreds of PPE donations

Posted at 8:34 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 10:14:42-04

GOODING, Idaho — North Canyon Medical Center in Gooding asked for donations for face masks via Facebook several weeks ago, and the response was overwhelming.

North Canyon leaders put out a request for 500 cloth face masks. The community answered the call, giving them more than 700 masks and 3D-printed extenders and face shields.

"We can't thank people enough. It's just really one of those things that the community stepped up and helped us when we asked and really needed help," said Shelly Amundson, North Canyon's community relations director.

Many people and organizations are banding together to help during this time and are continuing to help other facilities where personal protective equipment is needed. The Gooding Library and School District are just two donors out of many. Their primary focus was 3D printing face shields and adjustable extenders for face masks to make them more comfortable.

The extenders help take the strain off of people's ears, a benefit to healthcare workers since they wear masks nearly all day, every day. The extenders come in many different sizes so that virtually anyone can use them.

Gooding Library director Cindy Bigler and Gooding School District teacher Rebecca Larsen are leading the collection push for donations. So far, they've donated over 2,000 extenders to North Canyon Medical Center and other facilities in the area.

"When put the small ones in, I put about four or five at a time, and that takes about an hour and a half. For the large ones, depending on what printer I'm using, I can print one in about twenty minutes," said Bigler.

Karma Fitzgerald is part of a 25-person team at Shoshone's Salli's Back Porch Fabrics. She and her team are responsible for making and donating thousands of customized face masks to North Canyon and other organizations.

The team is following CDC guidelines and are not meeting in person, as much as they would like to, for everyone's safety. Instead, they've set up a Facebook group to communicate and notify one another. That way, when an order is put in, people can get on it as soon as possible.

"So our priority is always healthcare and people that are high risk, so typically it's been elderly or people with immune deficiencies. So those are our top 3 right away. After that, we look at people that have been labeled essential, so we've donated to grocery stores, banks, and construction companies," said Fitzgerald.

The time for sewing the cloth masks varies on the person's skill level and experience with sewing. However, it is a daily activity, and the team does their best to get as many made possible.

Despite the tough work, these women and other donors are proud to be helping their communities and contribute during such a trying time. They plan on continuing these projects until they are told to stop or if the demand goes down.

For now, the demand is still high as more workers and healthcare officials head back to work. North Canyon has already estimated they will need 800-1,000 masks in total so their staff is fully covered. In the event of a surplus, they plan on donating the rest to where they are needed.