FMCH has received more than 1,000 donated masks

FORT MADISON – At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a request went out to the community for homemade cloth masks. The request was met with a huge show of support, creativity and generosity from community members anxious to do their part.
Hospitals in particular realized the benefit of having community members make cloth masks. Fort Madison Community Hospital (FMCH) was no different.
“Like every other hospital in the country, we want to keep a strong supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in stock so we are ready to take care of our sick patients,” said Heather Oppenheimer-Smith, Infection Prevention nurse at FMCH.
“When the idea of homemade cloth masks went viral, we appreciated how this could help us conserve our surgical masks for our employees working in direct patient care, while also providing protection for all of our staff from patients presenting with respiratory symptoms.”
Fort Madison Community Hospital (FMCH) was also fortunate to have a community member, Liz Woodbury, wife of FMCH Orthopedic Surgeon Brent Woodbury, step up to organize the mask-making efforts.
“I felt this was an opportunity for me to do my part in the COVID-19 fight. I have a strong appreciation for the work being done at FMCH to keep our community safe and helping to orchestrate local mask contributions was a good way to support that work,” said Liz Woodbury.
Cloth masks were originally used for patients or visitors. If a patient or visitor to FMCH answered yes to respiratory symptoms, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, at the screening stations they were given a cloth mask to protect others from them.
The need for cloth masks increased when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the recommendation everyone should wear a cloth face cover to protect others in case you are infected, since some people with the virus may not have symptoms. It was at that time FMCH decided to require all of their employees, regardless of position, to wear a cloth mask while at work. Employees in direct patient care continue to wear the appropriate PPE for their area of work. Cloth masks are still being used for patients or visitors to the facility as well.
“We are deeply grateful to all those in our community who have used their talents and supplies to make cloth masks for us. These masks have been a great gift, allowing us to keep our staff healthy and at work and our supplies appropriately allocated,” said Shelby Burchett, CEO at FMCH.
To date more than 1,000 cloth masks have been made and donated for use at FMCH. They continue to accept donations of homemade cloth masks. All masks are laundered and ironed by FMCH staff prior to use.

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