Suited Up For Protection

Paula Gutierrez, a medical assistant at Mid Coast Medical Clinic, wears protective gear made by local volunteers as an extra cautionary measure in the fight against the coronavirus. Locals made fabric masks and shields for healthcare workers at the clinic and El Campo Memorial Hospital.

Just like El Campo residents Brenda Tomanek and her mother Sylvia Nielsen, who sewed surgical face masks last week, others in the area are stepping up to help local health care providers.

“Several weeks ago the women of Christ Lutheran Church reached out and wanted to help the hospital by providing face masks,” El Campo Memorial Hospital Managed Care and Marketing Coordinator Donna Mikeska said.

West Wharton County Hospital District President Paul Soechting took the project on and has since added over 40 volunteers to this list.

Soecthing has been coordinating the collection of masks, face shields and extra protective suits within the community.

“El Campo Memorial Hospital is grateful for these volunteers and for the support of our hospital and for Mr. Soechting for stepping up to man this project,” Mikeska said. “We are in a good position with our personal protective equipment (PPE,) but the sewn masks are a great back-up and/or addition to the PPE gear. The hospital is well prepared and these additional masks help extend the present inventory.”

Volunteers for this project include the following groups and members. The women’s group from the Christ Lutheran Church include Janice Cox, Kay Burtschell, Nelda Kovar, Barbara Jensen and Denae Stehling. Community Volunteers are Rose Pasak, Marie Powell and Elizabeth DeLuca. Also helping with this project are members of the El Campo Casual Quilters group headed by J. Miranda, president, Marilyn Haupt, Irene Blaylock, Georgia Henderson, Dorothy Morton, Cathy Kunz, Carolyn Kelly, Judy Leopold, Virginia Pavlovsky, Donna Hermansen, Charlotte Reed, Cindy Savino and Marilyn Kucera. Lastly, the El Campo Mennonite Church has about 20 volunteers that are providing the sewn masks.

In addition to volunteers stepping up, local businesses have provided donations to the cause.

To date the group has created around 1,000 face masks from bandanas and fabric. Soechting and the nurses designed a face shield that could be fabricated with a little help and Fabian Rodriquez volunteered to build the face shields. At the end of the day, 40 additional face shields were created and donated to the hospital.

“Once again, the donation of these items will extend the hospital’s present inventory. El Campo Memorial Hospital is so happy to have all of these individuals showing their support for our hospital and our community. This virus is certainly a new thing for us here in El Campo, but this community support and volunteerism is not a new thing,” Mikeska said. “People are stepping up and doing what they can to help their fellow healthcare workers, community patients and our small rural town in a big way.”

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