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ELY MANUFACTURING

Wintergreen ramps up production of medical supplies

Sewers lined up, but material shortage continues

Keith Vandervort
Posted 4/8/20

ELY – As of this week, the Centers for Disease Control is recommending that everyone wears a face mask while out in the public for essential needs, such as grocery shopping or going to the …

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ELY MANUFACTURING

Wintergreen ramps up production of medical supplies

Sewers lined up, but material shortage continues

Posted

ELY – As of this week, the Centers for Disease Control is recommending that everyone wears a face mask while out in the public for essential needs, such as grocery shopping or going to the clinic or hospital.
Wintergreen Northern Wear has teamed up with local Ely community members to hand sew thousands of masks for local hospitals, nursing homes, essential workers, and community members, but they need more help.
“We have already donated hundreds of masks to the Ely community,” said Wintergreen owner Sue Schurke. “We are looking for support to provide additional masks to Ely and neighboring communities. We now have over 2,000 requests for masks and about 60 home-sewers who have signed up to help make them. We are providing kits of 24 masks. We are happy to donate in bulk and also to individuals.” 
In order to provide masks for local hospitals, health care facilities, care centers, and food shelves, Wintergreen is asking for donations to cover the cost of labor and materials.
“We have reached our capacity for sewers at this time,” Schurke added, “but will post an announcement on Facebook if we can get more material. For those who have signed up or emailed us to sew, thank you. We are working on putting kits together and will let you all know as soon as possible when they are available for pick up. We are cutting and packaging sets as fast as we can.”
Wintergreen continues to accept requests for masks. Go to the sign-up sheet at their website, www.wintergreennorthernwear.com, for more information. “You can also donate to our campaign to help cover costs for material and labor here as well,” she said.
CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age two, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
The masks are based on the most recent CDC guidelines for masks worn by the public. They are designed to reduce droplet distribution, but they do not prevent COVID-19 inhalation.
Cloth face coverings should:
• Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face,
• Be secured with ties or ear loops,
• Include multiple layers of fabric,
• Allow for breathing without restriction,
• Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
According to CDC guidelines, face coverings should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.
Medical gowns for Ely-Bloomenson
Meanwhile, Wintergreen finished up their first order of 100 medical gowns for the Grand Marais hospital this week and started on an order of 200 gowns for the Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital.
“We are using the gown pattern we received from North Shore Health Hospital with just a few changes,” Schurke said. “We may be making another 100 gowns for the Grand Marais facility and are in contact with other healthcare providers.”
She said Wintergreen is looking for a supplier to provide them with Level 3 quality material for Level 2 medical gowns. “It has been very difficult for small manufacturing companies like ourselves to get the materials that we need to make vital PPE (personal protective equipment) for our local hospitals, even though we have the tools and the team to make readily-available products at a much faster turn-around time for our local hospitals when compared to larger international companies,” Schurke said.
“We can make high quality medical gowns at a competitive price, but again, it is very difficult to get the material to do this. We have completely shifted our production to making PPE and are even helping to improve standard designs. If we can get the material we need, we can continue to provide well-paying jobs and support the Ely economy.”
Wintergreen is looking for guidance and support from state and local government to help the company become an active part of this vital supply chain for medical providers. “We have the team, the tools, and the talent to make high quality reusable gowns, the missing piece of the puzzle is the raw material,” Schurke said. “Everyone we have called is out of stock or has significantly increased their prices. We are eager to make a larger impact for both our community and health care providers.” 

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