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Southwest Employees Making Personal Protective Equipment for Community


Published on April 10th, 2020

Several Southwest Virginia Community College employees and friends of the college have stepped up to make personal protective equipment, or PPE, for those in our community who are ill or working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Connie Whited, Cheryl Nelson, Sara Fairchild, and others have sewn over one hundred fabric masks, so far. They are using a variety of fabric patterns in two styles. One style resembles surgical masks and another, called Olsen Masks, includes a pouch that can have a filter inserted for additional protection.

My partner Micki and I are making masks for our fellow lab workers at Clinch Valley Medical Center (CVMC). Micki is a full-time phlebotomist at CVMC, and I was working part-time as a phlebotomist but got laid off about 3 weeks ago. I decided if I couldn’t be there to help, I would help from home as much as I could. We are making the masks with a pocket in the back so a filter of some sort can be inserted. We are also sewing interfacing into the masks as a built-in filter. Per CVMC guidelines the masks should be the kind that tie so we are using bias tape for that. Since posting to Facebook about making the masks we have gotten requests for about 40 more, so we are working on those this weekend. We are not selling them, just giving them to anyone that needs them.

Sarah Fairchild

Morgan Gilbert has been working with a group associated with a nearby apparel and clothing manufacturing shop that are expecting to produce 1,300 masks over the next two weeks. They have been featured in a story on

Brandon Hoanker, Christopher Godsey, Chris Owens, Joe Magee, and Ryan Magee; as well as Southwest robotics team 6802 member Grayson Martin are making plastic face shields for local healthcare workers. They have produced 32 face shields so far and are also working on prototype respirators. The designs were acquired from the NIH 3D Print Exchange​ a part of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health and are part of a much larger project.

Fabric Face Masks

Plastic Face Shields

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