COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Some seamstresses in the Midlands are coming together to make sure healthcare workers have the materials they need to stay safe. They’re spending hours each day cutting and sewing gowns for nurses and doctors.
Columbia resident, Victoria Fleischer says she saw some seamstresses sewing masks for healthcare workers, and she wanted to help. She says she learned some hospitals were in need of gowns, and Providence Health Hospital reached out and requested 400 isolation gowns for nurses and doctors.
Fleischer and her team of eight seamstresses got straight to work. They call themselves the ColaTown Gown Makers. “People like being a part of something that’s bigger than them, and people like to feel part of the community,” said Fleischer.
The group has made 125 gowns since Friday. Some are made of medical-grade material that was donated by Milliken, but the team quickly used up those 200 yards. So, they moved to a more practical material, bedsheets. Many of the sheets were donated by local hotels.
Other businesses and community members have dropped off elastic, which is used for each wrist, and Velcro, which closes the gown in the back. “It’s purposeful, it’s motivating. I’m just turning them out as fast as I can,” said Wendy Brashaer, a member of ColaTown Gown Makers.
Fleischer cuts the materials and then seamstresses pick them up from her front porch to practice social distancing. Several gowns have already been delivered to Providence Health Hospital. "We’ve gotten nice pictures from the nurses wearing them, and they’re just very very thankful for what we’re doing and that’s why we can keep on doing it” said Fleischer.
These women are using their craft to give back and reminding all of us that we too can do our part in battling this deadly disease. “If there’s anything we can do, we can stay at home, wash our hands, follow the guidelines and just to be able to do a little bit more hopefully makes an impact,” said Brashaer.
The gowns are sturdy enough to be washed and reused. Providence Health leaders say, “The gift of these seamstresses time and talent will help protect healthcare workers and save lives.” Fleischer says she has also gotten gown requests from Lexington Medical Center and a few healthcare facilities in Camden.
In order to meet the demand, the group is in need of more sheets, elastic and Velcro. If you’d like to donate, they have two drop off locations, one at Best Mattress on Devine Street in Columbia and another at Leeza’s Care Connection in Lexington.
If you have a serger sewing machine and would like to help the group make gowns, Fleischer encourages you to join the ColaTown Gown Makers Facebook group.