Healthcare facilities continue to face personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Haven included.

Gainesville’s Queen of Peace Catholic Church learned of a gown shortage and donated a large quantity of used sheets through a recent outreach event. The sheets would later be converted into gowns for Haven’s clinical staff and visiting family members to wear.

Greg Hollingshead, who oversees outreach ministry at Queen of Peace, said, “When the COVID pandemic became acute in March, we got in contact with our ministry partners and asked, ‘How can we help?’  This question turned into an expansion of our monthly food program. But in May and June, in talking to other organizations, we realized they had non-food missions we may be able to help with. To respond to specific needs, we made a wish list. We learned that Haven was experiencing difficulty getting gowns so we put sheets on the wish lists for Haven’s volunteer seamstresses.”

Haven’s volunteers are not currently able to visit patients due to COVID-19, but have been searching for ways to continue serving. When Queen of Peace donated sheets, volunteers in each of Haven’s service areas offered to sew the sheets into gowns.

The volunteers used a CDC-approved gown pattern to convert the sheets into safe, usable PPE. “I’m a retired nurse so I know how important protective equipment is. I didn’t know clinical staff at Haven were still having difficulty getting them,” said volunteer Joan MacLeod. “I’ve been sewing since I was a little girl and have a nice machine. I’ve got it down to where I can make one gown in three hours. I just finished the eighteenth gown. As long as Haven needs them, I’ll keep making them and am happy to do so.”

Joan, who is a long-time Haven Advance Care Planning volunteer, said that she is sewing gowns for the Gainesville area and that seamstresses in Haven’s other service areas have also volunteered to continually make gowns.

Haven proudly continues to serve patients, including those who are COVID-19-positive, across the state. Various challenges have arisen as a result of the pandemic and Haven is thankful for those who have helped creatively address these obstacles.

“Haven is grateful that Queen of Peace quickly and graciously donated sheets to be made into gowns in a time of need,” said Haven Director of Clinical Operations Brigid Doherty. “In a time where personal protective equipment is hard to come by, the community and our volunteers have stepped up to serve our clinical staff, as well as our patients and families, in unique ways.”

In regard to continued partnership, Queen of Peace’s outreach ministry leader Greg Hollingshead said, “We were told that we far exceeded Haven’s expectations. As far as sheets are concerned, we had people clean out their entire linen closet and donate. We’re happy to do it. Hopefully this is the beginning of a long-term relationship between us and Haven.”

Haven associates at the E.T. York Hospice Care Center in Gainesville wear PPE gowns created by volunteer seamstresses.

Haven volunteer Joan MacLeod converts sheets to PPE gowns in her home.