Local athletic trainers Jamie and Josh Woodall are creating masks for medical personnel with pieces of fabric after learning about the lack of supplies available for nurses and physicians during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Woodalls have been athletic trainers for more than 16 years. Jamie is the Brenham ISD head athletic trainer, while husband Josh is the head athletic trainer and assistant athletic director for Bryan ISD. Jamie said she reached out to her sister, a labor and delivery nurse and her sister-in-law, a nurse, about whether there is a need for masks for health care workers. Jamie got a resounding ‘Yes!’
“One of them said there was an effort out there already that would help streamline this and the one that I went with was JoAnn’s Fabric,” Jamie said. “They have a system in place that will provide people with the fabric and the kits to make these. But I have a ton of fabric so I thought this is a good time to use it. And it’s cute fabric so I thought it could brighten someone’s day, especially if it’s a patient that’s seeing it.”
JoAnn’s stores, including the location in Bryan, are offering free tutorials, fabrics and patterns online and for store pickup, for those interested in making masks. Masks can be made of cotton or elastic and JoAnn’s will donate masks to local hospitals.
Jamie said JoAnn’s offers patterns from beginners to advanced, but it’s easy enough for anyone to create. Jamie and Josh have a system and even added in floral wire across the bridge of the nose so that masks could mold to anyone’s face.
“It’s not that hard of a pattern at all. I’ve just cut all of the pieces, and it’s an assembly line. We do one step on all of them and then we come back and finish it, so it’s pretty efficient,” Jamie said.
The Woodalls are working from home, and although they just started making masks this week, they’ve already received messages from nurses and athletic trainers, who are working at local hospitals, requesting masks. Jamie said since posting her mask prototypes to Twitter on Sunday, she has received 15 requests for masks from medical personnel.
After receiving a request, Jamie and Josh will give the nurse or trainer the option to choose a fabric, then once the masks are finished, they mail them out. The Woodalls will then donate the extra masks to JoAnn’s in hopes of reaching a wide variety of people in need.
“My sister-in-law was telling me that because of supplies being low, she has to wear the same mask all day,” Jamie said. “They’re needing the fabric one to go over the medical mask so it can be switched out between patients. They’d be wearing two masks so they’re not having to switch out the medical mask between patients. The future concern is there won’t be any masks and although these are not medical masks, they are better than nothing.”
The Woodalls are ready to jump into action if needed at local hospitals — something Jamie said many of her colleagues and friends around the state have already done. Both the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and hospitals around the country are using programs to request athletic trainers to be medical screeners and help physicians during this time. While the Woodalls are willing to help, Jamie said there hasn’t been a need in Bryan-College Station yet.
“There’s athletic trainers that work for hospital systems that outreach to usually smaller schools that don’t have a full-time athletic trainer, so they contract to those schools out of the hospital,” Jamie said. “[NATA] has a program, Go4Ellis, and it’s a way that employers or organizations can get in touch with an athletic trainer when they want to contract one for either an event or something else. Now, they are using that program for hospitals that do need athletic trainers that maybe don’t have enough for these roles.”
With schools, sports and many businesses on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak, Jamie said it can be a stressful time for most, but there are ways to help out. For the Woodalls, donating masks is a way to aid the community and their fellow colleagues in the medial field. Jamie said more than ever, she’s thankful for her time as a youth in 4H, which taught her how to sew — a skill that is even more useful as the Woodalls continue to produce masks.
“It gets me involved in a way that I feel like I can help without causing damage to people or spreading the illness,” Jamie said. “But it is also allowing me to focus on something that’s related to my field in a way that, even though it’s not my traditional work, I feel like I’m using my skill set that I was taught growing up, along with my profession and putting those together.”