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How to Donate Homemade Face Masks for Iowa Health Care Workers

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds has called for Iowans to make fabric face masks for health care workers across the state. Initially, many medical centers were not accepting these homemade masks, but as demand for personal protective equipment increases, that decision has changed.

“People have started calling right away after the governor’s address Monday looking for specific kinds of material,” said Shelley Draur, owner of The Iowa Quilt Block. “Pretty much everybody that I’ve talked to either hasn’t sewn for a while, but they have a sewing machine so they’re getting it out, dusting it off and going to help with the effort of making masks.”

Currently in the metro area, UnityPoint Health and Broadlawns Medical Center are now accepting homemade masks. According to IDPH, these masks will be used in combination with a face shield when commercially made masks become unavailable.

IDPH, UnityPoint Health and Broadlawns Medical Center have instructions available on their websites but stress that any pattern meeting regulations can be used to make these masks. The only guideline is that the masks must be made of 100 percent cotton fabric and thread.

“You just have to make sure the fabric you’re using is 100 percent cotton. Other fabrics will melt under high heat. And so then they’ll go to disinfect them before they’re used and they’ll just destroy them in the process,” said Draur.

As elastic becomes unavailable, it’s favorable to follow patterns that use hair ties in its place.

“From what I’ve understood around the area, no one has the elastic. Everyone is sold out of the elastic. So people are taking a mask that either uses the hair ties, like the UnityPoint mask,” said Draur.

The Iowa Quilt Block does have mask making kits available, and each kit makes three masks. Since they are first come, first serve, Draur strongly recommends calling the store first. Although the store is still open to the public, they are trying to limit the number of customers in the store to fit the governor’s recommendation of under ten people.

“We are asking people to please call ahead, or call when they arrive and just to be patient because it’s one out then one in,” said Draur.

The store also has curbside pickup available.

Please follow the instructions below to donate your homemade masks to locations in the metro area. If you are unsure if a medical center is accepting homemade masks, the IDPH recommends calling ahead.

Broadlawns Medical Center: 

“Kindly enclose completed masks in a zip lock plastic bag or within a closed plastic box. We will launder them prior to use so there is no need to wash the masks prior to delivering them.  To coordinate a delivery of masks, please email foundation@broadlawns.org. We hope that our supply of PPE masks will get us through this situation, but we will use the homemade masks if circumstances dictate the need.”

UnityPoint Health:

Drop off information here

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the generous offers from the community to make masks for our staff. We will begin collecting them and ask that you follow the pattern and instructions located at www.unitypoint.org/help    

* Please note: We will accept homemade masks, but will not distribute them to our health care workers until all of our medically-issued masks are depleted.”

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