Coronavirus: Volunteers asked to make cloth masks for Ontario Health Team-Northumberland

The Ontario Health Team-Northumberland is inviting volunteers to make cloth masks for health-care providers and patients.
The Ontario Health Team-Northumberland is inviting volunteers to make cloth masks for health-care providers and patients. Getty Images

The Ontario Health Team-Northumberland is calling on area volunteers to help them ensure patients and clients have a ready supply of cloth masks amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the OHT-N said following its meeting on May 28, partners approved a plan to collect, clean, package and distribute handmade cloth masks to patients and clients with instructions on how to wear them and care for them.

READ MORE: Summer heat, humidity will be a problem when wearing COVID-19 masks outdoors: experts

The OHT-N includes Cobourg’s Northumberland Hills Hospital and Campbellford Memorial Hospital, along with primary care providers, community health centres, family health teams and other services in all county communities and Alderville First Nation.

“Two observations have motivated us to take this step together at this time,” said Linda Davis, Northumberland Hills Hospital president and CEO and spokesperson for the OHT-N. “First, many local residents told us at and after our recent COVID-19 virtual forum that they would like a mask to wear when they visit the grocery store or pharmacy, but they are having trouble finding one.

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“Second, as OHT-N members prepare to ramp up their services, many — including the Northumberland Family Health Team, Community Health Centres of Northumberland and Rebound Child and Youth Services, to name a few — will be asking their patients and clients to wear a mask when they come to their appointment. By working together, we hope to preserve precious medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) for those delivering direct patient care by helping to get cloth mask alternatives into the hands of our patients and clients. We also see an opportunity to increase education on how to safely ‘don and doff’ (put on and take off) a face mask, as it may increase risk if used incorrectly.”

The OHT-N partners have a ready-made distribution network to help get more cloth masks in circulation among their Northumberland patients and clients quickly. Volunteers are being sought to help sew masks and drop them off at two collection points:

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  • Community Living Campbellford, 65 Bridge Street East (call in advance, as hours are intermittent — 705-653-1821, ext. 203)
  • Northumberland Hills Hospital’s main entrance, 1000 DePalma Drive in Cobourg (between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily)

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Masks are to be placed in a plastic bag with contact information (name, address, email address and phone number) as a means for the OHT-N to thank donors.

The OHT-N advises people to visit online for instructions on the design and preferred materials for the mask. Elastic is strongly recommended rather than ties for securing the masks

Masks may also be mailed to the OHT-N care of:

Northumberland Hills Hospital (attention: Charity Meiklejohn)
1000 DePalma Drive
Cobourg, ON K9A 5W6

Distribution will begin with OHT-N primary care partners and eventually extend to all OHT-N partners.

“The OHT-N partners thank all those able to put their talents to work for the good of Northumberland County,” said Davis. “County residents have worked very effectively together with area health and social care organizations to minimize the impact of COVID-19. The number of confirmed positive cases in our region remains very low and we have a shared responsibility to sustain this. This mask campaign is a further step we can take together as partners to keep our community safe.”

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As of Monday afternoon, the Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit reported 17 cases of coronavirus in Northumberland County. Of the 17 cases, 16 have been resolved.