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Flathead woman making fabric masks for health care workers

Posted at 3:45 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 19:16:13-04

KALISPELL — When Flathead Valley resident Kendra Pettry heard medical workers were running short on medical masks she knew she had to help.

Pettry started a Facebook group called "Cloth Mask Makers-Flathead Valley" where people from around the valley can join and contribute. You can find mask patters and preferred cloth options here.

"I knew this was a nation wide shortage, and I was thinking, you know what? This is probably something that's going to come up very quickly in the Flathead Valley," said Pettry. " We need to get a head start on making sure our health care workers have the protection."

Kalispell Regional Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Doug Nelson told MTN News that they are using tons of medical masks, ensuring their workers are safe.

"We're going through a lot right now just because we're protecting our employees, our workers, our health care workers as they see patients that might have COVID-19," said Dr. Nelson.

Pettry told MTN that it takes her 30 minutes to make one mask and she spends up to five hours a day working on making masks during the day. The fabric masks are designed to go over the N95 mask.

Dr. Nelson says that the fabric masks Pettry creates are a huge help.

"The N-95 mask filters out the virus, but if someone is coughing, or has respiratory secretions and getting aerosolized, the fabric or paper mask over the top of the N95 mask can prevent those droplets and little bits of virus from getting embedded in the surface of the N95 mask," said Dr. Nelson.

He added that washing the mask with soap and water will sterilize it.