By Jacqueline Quynh

DENVER (CBS4) – Many healthcare workers are still desperate to get adequate masks to protect themselves. That’s why “Operation We Can Sew It” hopes people will learn how to sew masks they can use for themselves and donate some to medical staff.

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The group was started by two doctors. Their goal is to help health care workers, and save some of those N95 masks for people working directly with patients having respiratory issues. The doctors reviewed several designs and believe this particular pattern could offer a desired level of protection until more of the N95s come in. That could take months as many of the masks were made in China where the outbreak started.

The effort is being spearheaded by Dr. Jillian Ciocchetti a surgeon, along with Dr. Kelly McMullen who specializes in family medicine. Since coming up with the idea, they’ve had their reviewed and approved for use by their medical group, SCL Health. Some workers are already using masks that volunteers have sewn.

(credit: CBS)

“The issue is we are preserving those for the healthcare staff who are working with patients who are admitted with respiratory issues who are being investigated for having the COVID virus or have the COVID virus reserving the N95 for people who are doing aerosolizing procedures that means they’re putting a tube to help people breath or they’re dealing with a lot of secretions. And since we don’t have enough to go around for everybody the rest of us are still taking care of patients,” Dr. Kelly McMullen said.

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After the masks are collected, they’re laundered, and filters and stents are added before they’re given to workers.

(credit: CBS)

“When you look at the literature regarding cloth masks, there are actually quite a few papers that discuss the use of them. In many parts of the world that’s the standard type of face mask used during surgery and other types of procedures because they can be reused. And after the SARS epidemic there were quite a few papers where people look at if we’re going to use cloth masks are they better or worse than the standard, how should we make them what materials should we make them out of. So Kelly [McMullen] and I used that literature to try to decide how to design a mask that could give our healthcare workers at least some protection.”

(credit: CBS)

You can take a look at a sample design for the masks here (, however, the doctors say please email before making masks because adjustments are still being made to better help workers.

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Jacqueline Quynh