The need for personal protective equipment for health-care workers is well documented, but thanks to a quartet of Gulf Island artists some nurses won’t have to worry about one piece of hygienic headgear.
After viewing a Facebook post about nurses needing surgical scrub caps, Gabriola artist Elizabeth Shefrin saw an opportunity to support those heading to the front lines of the COVID-19 fight.
“I feel better when I’m useful,” Shefrin said.
She reached out to University of Victoria nursing professor and VIU instructor Wendy Neander, who advised that a good project might be to make surgical caps for the 75 nurses graduating from VIU this spring, but who won’t get to have a big celebration.
“It was a suggestion from a colleague who noticed that a lot of the nurses were starting to wear caps and that would be something that would be useful for them to protect their hair, especially in the emergency department or your first contact with someone,” Neander said, adding that the caps can also prevent the nurses’ hair from falling in their faces and keep them from inadvertently touching their faces as they brush their hair away.
Shefrin then recruited her friend Wendy Lewington, a fabric artist on Hornby Island, who modified and wrote step-by-step instructions for a nursing cap sewing pattern Shefrin found online. She said “it’s nice to be able to give back in some way.”
“For me it’s a relief from the stress of it to just feel like I have some small thing to do that could be helpful,” Lewington said.
They each brought a neighbour into the project and over the course of a few weeks made the caps from bits of fabric and elastic they had lying around their studios. But the work was not without its challenges.
“We had sewing machines break down and that sort of thing and of course you can’t take them in to be repaired easily these days and especially not from Gabriola,” Shefrin said. “But I think we worked on it for a few weeks and just encouraged each other to do it and it gets easier and faster as you do it.”
Shefrin said it was a satisfying project, but she wants it to continue on a larger scale and is inviting others to participate. Lewington said their cap pattern has an “advanced beginner” difficulty level and Shefrin has drop-off points in Nanaimo and can collect finished caps on Gabriola.
“I’d love it if people just started taking this up as something they did and even made six or a dozen and sent them on,” Shefrin said. “Because when you’re making them it’s really good for you and then of course it’s good for the nurses as well. It’s kind of a win-win.”
Those interested in sewing surgical scrub caps or enrolling in Shefrin’s free online drawing sessions, Drawing Together Around the Salish Sea, can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-247-7476.
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