Maui Coronavirus Updates

Medical-Grade Mask Project on Maui Needs More Volunteers

April 18, 2020, 10:15 AM HST
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Despite news surrounding supplies of medical-grade filter face-masks arriving on island, leaders with The Maui Filter Face Mask Project say they continue to receive requests daily from clinical staff at both county hospitals and health agencies for assistance.

“The demand for filter face masks has significantly increased over the past week. We receive calls, texts, and messages daily asking for more of our filter face masks,” said project leader Jennifer Oberg. The project team is prepared to make 10,000 medical-grade filter face masks to protect workers and their patients.

Project Started with Reverse Engineering:

Upon learning Maui’s medical community would be facing a shortage of N95 Face Masks, volunteer project leaders Jennifer Oberg and Russell Van Dyken worked tirelessly to reverse engineer an N95 mask. Although they were not able to exactly replicate an N95, they designed a dual-filter prototype that met the approval of physicians and could be manufactured on the island.

During the design process the project team consulted with Maui physicians on materials, fit testing, and efficacy. The Kaiser Permanente Maui Lani Clinic team was the first medical team to approve the final prototype and encourage production to begin.

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Van Dyken and Oberg worked with volunteers to source specialty materials and supplies from all over the country. A social media post asking for production site options led Oberg to connect with Seabury Hall’s Head of School Maureen Madden who offered the project a home on campus. By March 25th mask production was underway and five days later Maui Lani Clinic accepted the first delivery of 50 non-woven dual filter face masks. Since that time mask production has increased to 400 masks per day.

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2,000 Medical-Grade Masks Made to Date:

Volunteers with The Maui Filter Face Mask Project have produced and donated 2,000 medical-grade masks to healthcare workers and first responders county-wide.

Mask deliveries have included hospitals, nursing homes, Medics, the Maui Fire Department, Maui Police Department and home health care agencies.

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One such mask recipient, a hospital Emergency Room employee, expressed gratitude saying, “My co-workers and I are so grateful for your (mask) donations. All of the volunteers’ and coordinators’ efforts demonstrate the giving and selfless nature of our community members. It made us feel like we really are all in this together.”

More Volunteers Needed to Meed Demand:

To meet the urgent and growing demand for medical grade masks, project leaders say more volunteers are needed to assist with mask making.

Volunteer coordinator, Julie MacMillan, noted that volunteers do not necessarily need to know how to sew, “we welcome volunteers of all skill levels and could use help with tasks like cutting, ironing, or even using power cutting tools.”

MacMilllian described the volunteer work place as “clean and safe” and emphasized, “to ensure masks are clean and volunteers are protected, our project leaders have implemented strict Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization health protocols at the mask production site. All volunteers wear masks and gloves while they work, and multiple workrooms enable great safe physical distancing.”

Production is in a controlled environment at Seabury Hall under the direction of volunteer project leader, Jennifer Oberg, a professional dressmaker. To become a volunteer, email project volunteer coordinator [email protected] for pre-screening.

Special Thanks / Other Ways to Help

A GoFund Me campaign entitled, Maui Face Mask Fund, was created to raise money to pay for mask making supplies, and donors met the $20K goal in just two days. With the supply goal met, the ongoing offer of donations are used to help fund volunteer meals.

Restaurants and the community have sustained volunteers daily with lunches including direct donations from Down to Earth, Pizza Fresh, Whole Foods, Las Pinatas of Maui, Tin Roof, Pukalani Superette, and Jersey Mike’s.  Donors have also prepared and hosted many additional lunches.

Project organizers say supply donations from individuals and businesses help to keep expenses low and address product shortages, including Olympia Clothing and Minit Medical.

Organizers say the project will continue until the need is met.

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