Progress Report! – Days 1-4

Rosie the Welder

While on quarantine it’s easy to forget what day of the week it is – it’s Sunday! We’re moving very, very quickly and aggressively to begin local production runs of face masks and hospital gowns for use by Rochester General Hospital (RGH) and other hospitals in the area. The hospital tells us they go through 10-15,000 face masks a day! This is what we’ve been doing, what we are currently working on, and what will need to be done next…

What’s happened so far

Day 1 – Thursday, March 19, 2020 – The Initial Request

RGH reached out to R. Jeffery Diduch, a senior executive at a local manufacturing facility that had been closed due to state quarantine restrictions, to see what, if anything, could be done to produce or procure more face masks and hospital gowns. Samples are provided for research.

Day 2 – Friday, March 20, 2020 – Work From Home network created

The idea of forming a network of home sewers using their own sewing machines was floated and, while on the air with Bob Lonsberry (WHAM 1180) a new dedicated email address and website were put together and the call to action was announced. The call to action went viral and over 7,000 people have offered to help our efforts.

We’re overwhelmed by the response and extremely grateful! Please, rest assured your information has been received and is secure. Unfortunately, due to the huge amount, it’s taking a long time to transcribe and organize the information. Fortunately, while people are eager to act immediately, we do have some ramp up time and an organizing framework to establish first.

Prototypes and Testing

Initial prototypes were inspected and tested by RGH officials. Brainstorming alternative sources of the increasingly rare and now highly sought after hospital grade materials kicked up boxes of unused operating room drapes, curtains, and even table covers that could be cut up and sewn into mask components. The idea is to make as quality a product as possible with what we have or can get. Furthermore, we want to standardize the sewing so it can be fast and simple, yet effective.

Sanitation and sterilization are other obvious concerns when considering the sewing with a home network so another chief requirement is the new face masks can be cleaned and sterilized prior to use in the hospital, removing that prohibitive burden from the manufacturers. It could possibly even allow the masks to be reused, if they’re washable.

Patrick Moussignac of 10-WHEC interviews R. Jeffery Diduch in his atelier

Materials Sourcing and Procurement

We’ve written some purchase orders for key components like the elastic ties and that shipment is currently en route to our headquarters. Other components, namely the wire used in the nose bridge, have been harder to find in sufficient quantities. Thanks to the viral nature of the movement, we’ve been put in contact with an executive of a major retail chain who directed the dispatch of whatever remaining inventory they had in their warehouses and distribution centers to us, possibly even as a donation.

Conference calls with the heads of America’s few remaining clothing factories have taken place to share information, materials sourcing leads, and patterns in an effort to streamline and speed up work by removing duplication of effort across the nation.

R. Jeffery Diduch on a video conference call with heads of America’s remaining clothing factories

Day 3 – Saturday, March 21, 2020 – Essential Personnel

Word of our Work From Home project reached New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office and they decided to re-activate factories across the state by declaring them “essential personnel” in the effort to manufacture face masks and hospital gowns for medical personnel.

The final prototypes were delivered to RGH for testing and evaluation. Criteria include fit, usability, capability to be sterilized in house, and functionality. Approval of the final design and pattern is expected Sunday.

R. Jeffery Diduch demonstrating how to sew a face mask to Spectrum News

What’s happening next

Attention is now being turned to hospital gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE) garments like hair nets and booties – supplies of those are dwindling, too.

An initial run of our new masks will be made so the factory workers and delivery personnel will have something to wear when they go back to work. This is also the time to develop and document the assembly process so that we can train our Work From Home network.

Pieces continue to come together behind the scenes, too. Soon, we will be reaching out to activate those who have offered to help. While we want to move swiftly, we can’t be haphazard, so we’re doing our due diligence and getting the ultimate users, the hospital personnel, to sign off and approve everything.

The logistics of the supply chain and organization of the Work From Home sewing network is very complicated and the RGH volunteer coordinators will be assisting us.

More information will be shared on this website and through our social media channels on Facebook and Instagram.

We’re thrilled to be working with people here in Rochester and a growing number across America. Our project is going viral to stop the virus! Thank you for being a part of it! <3

62 Replies to “Progress Report! – Days 1-4

  1. I have some experience with volunteer and database management on a smaller scale. I’ve signed up to help home sew, but I would be happy to help with administrative issues as well

  2. I have a sewing machine and would like to help. My family’s business was a dress factory in NY.

  3. This is Mary Jo Colligan founder of angels of mercy and our women have been sewing dresses for young girls to help prevent human trafficking around the world for the last nine years. We are very interested and helping I have 85 women that are ready to go.

  4. I have a sewing machine and access to a couple of other machines. I am ready and eager to sew. In the meantime have developed my own prototype using a removable band of heavy tin foil for nose pinch ( am a registered nurse and well familiar with fit of masks). I will send this to you. Perhaps it would be useful in non- hospital settings. For instance my husband and I signed up to deliver meals on wheel and I was told volunteers would be given masks. I plan to use my own and wash in hot water after use.

  5. Hello. If your still looking for volunteers to help with sewing please reach out. Thank you – Karen

  6. I’m a librarian so I’m used to organizing things. I’m happy to help organize people, parts, deliveries, whatever you need.

  7. I have a sewing machine and would be willing to sew from home if materials are provided. I am in a risk group and will only work from home.

    1. I am president of the Rochester Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. We have members ready to sew!

  8. I am currently sewing face masks for friends and neighbors. I am a good, but not perfect seamstress. I would be willing to make make face masks and gowns.

  9. I have been sewing for over 50 years
    and have a sewing machine in my home. I would be more than happy to help to help in any way I can.

  10. I would love to help with this great project! How awesome as Americans we can help in a small way that will make a big difference for our health workers and providers.

  11. I’m ready and willing to help. 40 years experience in sewing. Have several machines and server. Unemployed at this time. Ready to sew!!!

  12. I have already sent a message that I’m a skilled seamstress and ready to sew. I also have a background in project management and would be willing to assist in that capacity as well. Godspeed.

  13. I have run 2 volunteer organizations and worked as a retail manager for over 20. I am detail oriented and an efficient organizer. Ready to get started!

  14. I have 20 years experience sewing I have to sewing machines my daughter works for a veterinarian I’ve been making me ask for them it would really be honored to help this great call you were doing please contact me with more information and the pattern thank you

  15. My husband and I can make phone calls or help organize. We are in Brighton/Southwedge. I’m already signed up to sew.

    Have you considered using twist ties for wires? I’ll bet Wegmans and Tops could donate large quantities.

  16. I have a sewing machine, and know how to use it. I’m ready and willing to help with this fabulous initiative!

  17. I have 40 years of experience and a sewing machine I would love to help out. I used to work for Joann Fabrics, and we had to make displays so I know the importance of quality and accuracy with sewing.

  18. I have more than 25 years experience as a senior human resources executive. I have past experience overseeing the volunteer function in a healthcare setting, as well as have managed many projects. I am currently self-employed as an organizational effectiveness consultant, and like many others, I too have seen my work disappear overnight. I have already offered to sew, but would be happy to help in any additional capacity you may need.

  19. I have experience in managing a remote workforce in the healthcare industry and I am also a seamstress with 4 sewing machines. I would love to have the opportunity to help in any way I can during this crisis.

  20. I am almost 70 years old and I’ve been sewing forever! I can make anything you need!

  21. I have already volunteered a sewing machine to anyone who can see. I am an experienced project manager able to help with organization tasks.

  22. My background as a contractor in events management and experience with community outreach during Sandy (when I lived in NY City area) could be of some help. I do sew (with theater and quilting connections here and in NY City area too) and am available to do that … but prefer the organization, outreach and thinking outside of the box aspects of emergency services.

    1. … BTW … have you checked with armed services for additional/unused hospital grade drapes to cut up?

  23. Rochester has a Quality Council with leaders who all have black belts in Quality management from Kodak and Xerox. Mike Caceci, is a leader at the Quality Council, mcaceci@excelperform.com is some one who could connect you with capable leaders. One such leader is Cherie Werner, keuka880@yahoo.com who led a world wide thermal paper team for Kodak. I have asked her to reach out to you. Another leader is Dan Sapper,
    I have reached out to him but have not heard back yet. I am ready to sew.

  24. I have been sewing for 30 years experience sewing machine. I make my own clothes. I would be honored to help this great call you were doing, please contact me with more information and the pattern thank you.

  25. I have 50 years of home sewing experience. I have been practicing on templates and reviewing cdc recommendations. Looking forward to doing my part. I have machines and serger.

  26. I have a vast experience how to create networks and manage people. I used to be a director of a small not for profit and helped to grow the organization. My Master’s is in Adult Learning has also provided me with an excellent foundation for this very thing. It applies to educating people on how to do things, based on what is most effective to manage the vast types of learners and communicators. I also completed on-line instructional design courses as part of my master’s I think that may be better for my talents, than actual sewing, but I am willing to do that too. Whatever it takes!

  27. Hi! I have signed up to sew and also have educational management experience. I’m happy to help in any way I can.

  28. Hello! I currently am the CEO of my business Lico haute couture. I’m sewing for 52 years. I have 5 sewing machines, 2 Overlock machines. Although that I am in a risk group. I put aside all my bridal and custom made clothing to help in this effort. Let’s win the war of this virus!!! !!!

  29. I have had experience in leading large research and development projects at Kodak. I also have a black belt. I am living with my 90 year old mother, so I can only help remotely.

    I also can do some sewing.

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