Blog of Bloodworks Northwest

Service with a "smize:" Bloodworks staff are wearing masks

When you step into a Bloodworks Donor Center or mobile drive, you enter a world governed by quality and regulations. There’s a reason that your favorite phlebotomist asks your full name throughout your donation even though she’s been drawing your blood for years: we need to follow strict processes to ensure a safe and reliable blood supply for local patients.

Bloodworks follows FDA and other regulatory guidance each and every day, and we’ve adhered to recommendations from CDC and other public health agencies throughout the evolving COVID-19 crisis.

The CDC now recommends that masks and other cloth coverings be worn on the face as a measure to slow the spread of COVID-19.

We’re working on our smizes (smiling with our eyes): Bloodworks collections staff are required to wear a mask, face shield, or both.

As you’ve read, commercially made surgical and N-95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are desperately needed by high-risk heath care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Giving blood is an essential activity, involving only healthy donors and staff, so homemade cloth face masks are sufficient added protection for the health and safety of our donors and employees.

Our phlebotomists are wearing masks that have been donated by community individuals and businesses or sewn by volunteers.

We encourage donors to wear masks to their donation appointments and whenever they are in public to lower everyone’s risk of transmission.

When should you wear a face mask?

Wear a face mask in settings where social distancing may be hard to maintain, like a trip to the grocery store, pharmacy… or giving blood!

Masks can cut down on the transmission of coronavirus, not prevent it. If you do have COVID-19 and don’t know it, a mask can help prevent you from spreading it from others, but wearing a mask is not a substitute for staying home if you’re sick or for social distancing of at least six feet.

Masks must also be properly worn and laundered or disposed of to prevent the spread of coronavirus and other infectious diseases. Your washing machine is sufficient for this.

If you handle a used mask improperly, you risk transferring germs from your mask to your hands to whatever you touch next.

Best practices:

  • Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask, whether you’re putting it on or taking it off.
  • Avoid touching the front of the mask you are wearing. Only touch the ear loops, ties, or band. Always assume the front of the mask is contaminated.
  • Secure the mask in a bag or other container when you take it off; again, always assume that the mask is contaminated.
  • To avoid confusion between fresh and used masks (and concerns about contamination), never leave a mask lying out in a public space (e.g. a table, chair, counter, etc.)
  • If wearing a reusable mask, always launder the mask before using it again.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing your mask.
  • Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer after handling a used mask.

Which DIY mask to choose?

There are many tutorials for face masks out there, and you may be wondering how effective they are.

According to the CDC, face masks should:

  • Be snug (but comfortably) against your face; if your mask has gaps on the sides or at the nose, the virus can more easily escape when you cough or breathe.
  • stay on with ties or ear loops
  • have multiple layers of fabric
  • be made with different fabric on each side to better determine which side is contaminated.
  • allow you to breathe without limitation
  • be able to be machine washed and dried without damage to fabric or shape

Most of the mask patterns you’re seeing online will meet these criteria, and Bloodworks Medical Director Katie Wilkinson, MD has gone the extra step to put together a tutorial on how to sew two different types of masks.

Even better: Katie herself has donated 100 masks to Bloodworks staff.

Together, we can keep the local blood supply (and each other) safe!

If you would like to volunteer to sew or donate masks, please contact [email protected]

April 21, 2020 4:56PM

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