Spreading the word to combat COVID-19

Donna Sapp at sewing machine
Donna Sapp, instructor for the LSU Department of Textile, Apparel Design & Merchandising, sews the pleats into a piece of fabric to form a face mask.
Annabelle Stokes, Communications Coordinator, LSU College of Agriculture

Face masks, along with social distancing, are among the best defenses against contracting and spreading COVID-19.

Hospitals and medical centers across Louisiana were overwhelmed when the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak hit the state. Our Lady of Lake Regional Medical Center, located in Baton Rouge, was among the hospitals that needed assistance. They were in desperate need of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Donna Sapp is an instructor for the Department of Textile, Apparel Design & Merchandising. Sapp teaches courses in apparel structure and fit and is experienced at sewing. Sapp answered a request from Our Lake of the Lake Regional Medical Center to donate face masks.

To help gather support for other health care facilities, Sapp broadcasted an email to students and other faculty within her department. Several students responded to the call for masks and worked independently to sew face masks for hospitals and other health care facilities within their communities.

Mykeil Chambers is a student majoring in apparel design. Chambers used the remnants of fabric from a previous school project to create masks during the pandemic outbreak.

“There was a post on Instagram encouraging people to use their leftover fabric to make mask donations to hospitals and health clinics,” said Chambers. “That's what made me spread the word to others.”

Chambers was aware that the elderly are a high-risk group for contracting COVID-19, and this inspired her to donate face masks to a local nursing home.

Face masks can be designed using several different patterns. Our Lady of the Lake requested that these be made using a pleated face mask design. These masks were reusable and made of cotton and fitted with elastic. They contained an additional layer with a pocket for filter inserts.

Sapp and her husband sewed and donated around 75 masks to the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center during the initial pandemic outbreak.

These masks were used to protect hospital support staff and patients as they entered the hospital.

By Annabelle Stokes