Annie Murphy (front) sews a neck guard. She is a seamster by trade and it was sewing that put her through university. Murphy is another co-owner of Shade Sails Canada. (Submitted)

Annie Murphy (front) sews a neck guard. She is a seamster by trade and it was sewing that put her through university. Murphy is another co-owner of Shade Sails Canada. (Submitted)

Revelstoke company sews neck guards for health care workers

Physicians say there is a desperate need for more personal protective equipment

A Revelstoke business is making protective supplies for healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19.

But the company is limited to respond because of equipment shortfalls and a limit on providing healthcare safety gear outside of the Revelstoke area.

Shade Sails Canada is currently sewing neck guards for Revelstoke medical staff.

While physicians have mouth masks, goggles, face shields and gowns, their necks can still be exposed, potentially allowing the virus to attach to their skin.

A local physicians tries on a neck guard. So far, Shade Sails have sewed 60, with another 90 on the way. (Submitted)

Brydon Roe, Shade Sails co-owner, said local physicians reached out to the company, asking if they could develop something to help.

“And we jumped right on it,” he said.

READ MORE: Revelstoke distillery halts production to make free disinfectant

READ MORE: COVID-19: Revelstoke 3D printing face shields for local hospital

The Canadian Medical Association said earlier this month that “urgent action” is needed to address a “lack of supply” of vital protective gear for health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

According to a news release from the organization, one-third of physicians in community care (offices and walk-in clinics) said they expect to run out of masks, eye/face shields and goggles within days. And some have already run empty.

In an email, Interior Health stated it doesn’t have specific information concerning personal protective equipment at each clinic or hospital within the region, however, it noted there are processes in place to ensure the protective equipment and supplies are distributed appropriately across the region.

Black Press has reached out for comment to the Revelstoke hospital regarding personal protective equipment supply levels.

In some places, such as in the U.K., one of the worst hit places by COVID-19, nurses have resorted to using garbage bags for personal protective equipment. On Easter Sunday, the country passed 10,000 deaths.

Shade Sails Canada, based in Revelstoke, is one of the only ones in Canada that makes shade sails.

A shade sail is a device that creates outdoor shade based on the design of a ship’s sail. The company was even on CTV’s Dragon’s Den last fall.

While the company is still making shade sails, Roe said demand has dropped and the company had to lay off staff.

However, Shade Sails has been asked to make multiple items in the wake of the pandemic, such as fabric dividers at hospitals and even body bags, but the company lacks the equipment necessary to make those items.

Roe said the company has donated 60 neck guards to the local hospital and is working on another 90, which a local anonymous sponsor is helping to pay for.

The neck guards are made from material similar to hospital gowns.

Shade Sails Canada has approached the federal government to help fund the shields and approval to export outside of Revelstoke, Roe citing that his company is getting requests from doctors across the country.

“There’s a serious need for them,” he said.

The prime minister announced earlier this month the federal government will spend $2 billion on additional medical supplies to meet the urgent demand.

READ MORE: Health Canada approves portable COVID-19 test that can provide results within an hour

It’s possible, said Roe, the neck guards could be a product that lasts beyond COVID-19 and becomes a regular addition to healthcare workers’ personal protective equipment.

As-of-April 13, there have been 734 deaths from COVID-19 in Canada


 

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A local physician tries on a neck guard. So far, Shade Sails have sewed 60, with another 90 on the way. (Contributed)

A local physician tries on a neck guard. So far, Shade Sails have sewed 60, with another 90 on the way. (Contributed)

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