‘We need to help each other’: UHCO optometrist sews masks to prevent coronavirus spread
When an optometrist takes the Optometric Oath, they pledge to do the utmost to serve their community, country and humankind. A clinical assistant professor at the College of Optometry is now sewing masks for frontline responders and medical personnel as her contribution.
Dr. Moriah Chandler as an optometrist typically assists people with their vision, but now during the coronavirus pandemic, she is helping by sewing masks for health care workers and first responders who lack personal protective equipment.
“Since we were switching over to remote education and waiting to see how things were going to go, I figured that I had the time to do something,” Chandler said.
While Chandler’s homemade masks are not medical-grade on their own, they can fit over medical-grade masks to prolong them. Chandler’s masks also include a pocket to place additional filters inside.
Balancing sewing masks with work, taking care of her children and other responsibilities, Chandler does not have a strict schedule on making masks. However, Chandler said she sees sewing masks as more than a casual hobby because of the global need for them right now.
“Usually, I’ll try and sew a little bit before dinner, but the majority of time I spend sewing is after the kids go to sleep and on the weekends,” Chandler said. “I’ve typically been staying up until 1 a.m. sewing masks.”
As of Sunday, Chandler has made 65 masks to be donated to various health care providers and first responders across the country, including a women’s health clinic in Pearland, a pediatric clinic in New York, an EMS station in Fredericksburg and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
The next batch of masks will go to optometrists in California, Chandler said.
Through her mask making, Chandler has been able to encourage some of her coworkers and students at the College of Optometry to join her. Chandler created instructions on how she sews masks.
“Since I’ve started this, a couple of my UHCO students, faculty and staff have been inspired to start making and donating masks as well,” Chandler said. “Some of my friends from college and previous students and coworkers have also started making masks.”
When it comes to what individuals can do in light of the new coronavirus, Chandler said things are changing so quickly, and people should wear masks or a bandanna around their mouths when going out in public settings.
“Follow the CDC’s guidelines: wash your hands often, don’t go out unless it’s necessary and practice social distancing,” Chandler said. “Since this is all new and uncertain, check in on your friends and family remotely (to) see how they’re doing. If you’re going to a store, see if you can pick up anything for a neighbor or a friend to save them a trip. We need to help each other.”
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