Nurse makes homemade masks hoping to protect others, raise awareness

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Designed by a nurse, for a nurse. Some in the medical field say personal protective equipment is becoming harder to find across the state. Now, one Albuquerque nurse is trying to make the masks they do have last a little bit longer.

“Being a mom of three little kids, I would have to think long and hard about whether or not I would actually work a shift without one,” said Jessica Nandino, a nurse who works at an urgent care facility in Albuquerque.

Nandino is talking about N-95 respiratory masks. The masks are nearly sold out across the country. “It used to be a single-use. We would go into a patient’s room and upon exiting we would throw it away. Now, we’re being asked to use them for an entire shift or even an entire week,” said Nandino.

To make the masks they do have last a little bit longer, Nandino and her family are making fabric mask covers. “I know that fabric is very limited in its capability of stopping virus size particles but my thought is if it filters something the N95 will have to filter a little less and therefore extend the life a little bit,” said Nandino.

It’s no scientifically tried and true method but it is something. “Something is better than nothing but it’s not good. The CDC came out and said for us to rap bandanas around our face,” said Nandino.

Friday, the Department of Health says they have an “adequate” supply of N-95 masks.

Wednesday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said the state only got 25% of its personal protective equipment allocation from the federal government. “We’re very unhappy about this,” said Lujan Grisham.

The administration is prioritizing redistributing supplies to counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases, primarily to hospitals but also to other health entities. A spokesperson for the DOH did not specify when the next shipment could come.

Nandino plans to keep making masks for nurses who want them, hoping to both protect them and send a powerful message.

“We are putting other’s lives before ours now more than ever and I wanted a visual representation of that. When we start showing up to work in homespun masks with all different kinds of fabric from different seamstresses, that is an image that hopefully makes someone pay attention,” said Nandino.

Currently, the Department of Health is asking all clinics to conserve their PPE and use it for the most critical cases.

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