Moab Locals use Needle and Thread to Alleviate Hospital Supply Shortages

Hospitals across the nation are experiencing shortages of sterile scrubs and respiratory masks, but community members in southeastern Utah are breaking out their sewing machines to make a difference.

Since March 17, a project to resupply the Moab Regional Hospital with reusable gowns and masks has been approved by law enforcement officials and fully supported by the hospital staff.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Moab local Tammy Norman had to close the doors to her barber shop and found herself with extra time to help and an extra big heart.

She called her friend at Moab Regional who is responsible for purchasing and contracting medical supplies to inquire what could be done to relieve the burden.

Norman said her inspiration was divine, and she has worked tirelessly in recent days to spearhead the initiative to keep medical responders healthy by making them the safety gear they need.

“We got pictures [of masks] and talked about what we needed, I went to Crystal Day who sews really well, she mocked up two different patterns, we did some tweaking and she made the final corrections.”

At Canyonland Quilts, owner Chyrrel Meyer opened her building to the project. The facility has HEPA air filters that allow more people to gather and work in closer proximity to each other while reducing the risk of contracting Coronavirus. 

Since the local mandate was issued to shut down operations, Moab hotels have donated bed sheets and other fabrics for use in the project.

Community members have rallied to the cause and have been organized into two teams: those who cut out the patterns from the material and those who sew them into gowns and masks.

The primary objective of the project is to supply medical responders and law enforcement officials with the masks, as they are on the front lines of the battle against the disease.

Day’s video tutorial and patent-pending pattern for the masks is available for free online, and many other hospitals and communities have also begun similar projects inspired by the Moab women. 

“I’ve heard from people as far as Pennsylvania, and New Mexico and Denver,” Meyer said. 

“People from all over the country are calling and they’ve been watching the video making and prepping [the gear] for themselves, their local communities that need them and even sending them here!”

Norman hopes the project will relieve some of the shortage in the medical industry and also encourage individuals to make their own respiratory masks, leaving remaining supplies available for professional use.

“It is so important for our emergency personnel to stay healthy. Without them, we would all be in a lot of trouble,” Norman said.

The volunteers endeavor to make between 300-500 sets of washable protective gear to be distributed locally. The print-to-scale pattern and tutorial is found at under the header, “masks”.

Story and Photos by: Reyce Knutson