When Janice Mangimelli heard of the need for covers to protect N95 respirators, she contacted her daughter-in-law Kelley Anne Mangimelli, an emergency RN at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, to see if they needed help getting them. That offer of help led to a team of 20 ladies from the Bethlehem Baptist Church who volunteered to work together to make covers. Most of the ladies had to dust off unused sewing machines to get started. Together, they’ve made more than 1,000 mask covers using fabric remnants, table cloths, and donated fabric.
Mask covers have been distributed beyond the Piedmont Regional Hospital. To date, respirator covers have been sent to the Habersham County Medical Center, the Chatuge Regional Hospital in Hiawassee, local medical offices, and first responders. Currently, the team is making specialty masks for the NICU nurses and new moms at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville and specialty masks for animal hospitals and pet owners.
Kesha Clinkscale, the Vice President for External Affairs at Habersham Medical Center (HCMC), says these home-made covers play an important role in protecting medical staff during the COVID-19 pandemic: “We are beyond grateful for the overwhelming support we continue to receive from our community. The hand-sewn face masks gifted to us from the Women of Bethlehem Baptist Church and others will help protect both our frontline healthcare providers and our non-clinical employees from the coronavirus (COVID-19).”
Donated masks also are being used by non-clinical staff while on the hospital campus. To help meet the growing need for respirator covers, HMC is also providing cloth and elastic to volunteers who are willing to make them. HMC has supplies for volunteers to make 2,000 covers.
Craig Ward, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, emphasizes that the church’s strong history of ministry to the community can be seen through this ministry: “This pandemic offers us an even greater opportunity for ministry, and the Bethlehem Family has taken full advantage. Our goal, as always, is to demonstrate the love of Christ.”