Sister Paschal Maria Fernicola, one of the “Sew Sisters”, is responding to the #MillionMaskChallenge that addresses the acute shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers.

“Just before supper on Saturday, I got an email from Elaine Belflowers, SCNA, who had forwarded an announcement from Deaconess Hospital asking for these. I copied the directions because I knew I wanted to make them, but I didn’t have any material. I asked someone to buy me a regular sheet. It just happened to be cotton, and I started cutting,” Sister Paschal Maria.

She was asked if the masks are hard to make.

“No. It takes about 20 minutes to make one after it’s cut out. It’s very easy and the directions are everywhere on the internet. But the materials are hard to find,” she says.

She is speaking of closely-knit cotton and the 7 inches of elastic required for each mask: rope elastic, beading cord elastic or 1/8” flat elastic. She’s using ponytail ties, now.

Other masks made by the “Sew Sisters” have been sent some to New York where Sister Luke Boiarski’s cousin, Carla Tarantino, founded and is the director the personal care agency, Select Care.

Friends of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, the “Sew Sisters”, have transitioned from dresses for children to making masks for nurses and emergency workers.

Sister Paschal is making her masks for the nurses who work at the Motherhouse in Nazareth, Kentucky. Gayle Case, SCNA, who works in Carrico Hall where Sister Paschal lives, is collecting them. 

Sister Paschal Maria says, “The nurses are so happy to get them. Gayle would like to give everybody two so that they have one to wear when the other is being cleaned. The colors are pretty, but white is best because it can be bleached. That’s the nice thing about these.”

So far, she has completed 32.

 “I’m really grateful that I can do it,” she added. 

The pattern Sister Paschal is using can be found here.

“Due to an outpouring of generous responses,” Deaconess Hospital’s webpage states, “we have created [a] database to help connect individuals and companies making masks to those organizations needing masks. … While fabric masks are not to be used in the care of COVID-19 patients, according to the CDC, fabric masks are a crisis response option when other supplies have been exhausted. Fabric masks can also be helpful in other areas of patient care as supplies of PPE are depleted.”

Jane Harrison delivering masks to Nazareth.

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