Jan Kuhn fixes procedural masks

Hyde Park resident Jan Kuhn, working from home, sews masks for health care workers. She fixed 5,000 flawed masks in no time.

Copley Hospital had 40 volunteers in the community answering the call for homemade face masks, so it was natural that the hospital turn to one of them in a pinch.

Two weeks ago, Copley received a batch of 5,000 procedural masks, the disposable paper kind with the glued-on elastic ear loops. Problem was, at least one of the loops on all 5,000 of the masks was detached, explained Jill Baker, the hospital’s community relations liaison.

Enter Hyde Park resident Jan Kuhn.

She was one of the select group who had previously made masks for Copley, using old operating room curtains. The material was more ideal for certain uses than plain cloth, but some found it difficult to work with.

“When I’ve got a job to do, I do everything I can to get it done,” Kuhn said. “So, I got mine done quickly.”

Meanwhile, Michael Brigati, the hospital’s emergency services director, was having trouble re-attaching the faulty ear loops on the new batch. Re-gluing them, hot-gluing them, stapling them — nothing seemed to do the trick.

So, Baker called Kuhn and gave her a mission: fix those 5,000 masks and get them back to us.

Baker wanted it to be a one-person job, placing importance on sterile working environment and passing through as few hands as possible.

“Mission is a good way to describe it,” Kuhn said. “I feel I like I’m helping them out, and Copley is good to the community.”

Baker said Kuhn finished the first batch of 2,000 masks in just 12 hours. A second batch took a little longer, because Kuhn noticed the second ear loop on those masks was also faulty.

Kuhn said there’s something about quilters and sewers; they tend to be community-minded. Maybe it’s the traditional thread that ties them, so to speak.

For instance, Kuhn belongs to the Vermont chapter of the Common Threads Quilt Guild — she’s the membership chairperson — and the group makes quilts for charity.

“It’s amazing how, in the time of need, our community comes together for the well-being of others,” Baker said. “So many times, Jan said she was more than happy to help, knowing that labor of love was touching many.”

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