BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — Blount Memorial Hospital announced on Friday it has begun creating alternate PPE for employees’ future use.
Specifically, the hospital said it will be creating its own disposable gowns and N95 masks to help protect staff from the coronavirus.
In a release, Blount Memorial said internal creation of alternate disposable gowns began on March 27, and production of N95 masks - which have passed a respirator fit test - began on April 1.
“Our employees have really stepped up and approached their ‘new jobs’ with excitement and support for helping our organization prepare for an outbreak. In three days, our employees who are making disposable gowns have produced 3,814 total gowns,” chief medical officer Dr. Harold Naramore said in the statement.
He added that the intricacy and detail required to make a usable N95 mask are different than other DIY cotton masks that are being sown throughout the community.
N95 masks use materials that already exist in health care environments, and hospital employees are helping to prepare the sewing kits so that they can be sewn to meet very specific guidelines.
Each N95 can take up to one hour to make, and are specially designed to protect against droplet exposures, according to the hospital.
As of Thursday, April 2, the hospital said there were 850 N95 masks in production.
Blount Memorial Hospital said the decision was made back in early February that investigating all alternative options of PPE would be necessary to protect the staff - doctors, nurses, clinical staff, and other workers.