Making Masks Project
Our community is facing an unprecedented crisis with the Corona virus pandemic. CSS East is mobilizing in a major effort to make re-usable face masks to support our local health care workers.
Dr. Quốc Dũng Trần MD and chair of the Anesthesiology department at Medstar Hospital in DC is our project adviser. He said that in his hospital and many others, even doctors are told they have to save and re-use their masks. Whereas they used to use the mask once per patient visit, now they use the same mask all day long. In some hard hit areas, they may have to re-use the same mask for up to a week! This is well documented in lots of news articles.
If even Doctors cannot get enough masks, we can imagine the situation with the rest of the front line health care workers. These are people who serve food, bathe patients, clean up rooms, and care for and comfort our sick patients in this difficult time when even the patient's family cannot visit them! These are the nurses, assistants, receptionists, custodians, volunteers, etc., the unsung heroes at the front line of this deadly battle against the disease, while we are safe at home. We all owe them a deep debt of gratitude.
We have designed and tested several mask prototypes according to Dr. Trần's specification. They are breathable, washable, hygienic, medical-type face masks, made out of either high thread count quality cotton or materials used to wrap sterilized surgical instruments. They have inserted aluminum foil nose bridge to help the wearer be more comfortable. The design comes in 2 sizes (L/M), and we plan to provide at least 2 - hopefully 4 or 5 - per health worker.
Our major challenge - weirdly enough - is to get the right materials, especially the elastic bands. These are in short supply everywhere, and orders won't get here until May! However, since we started early, we've been able to procure the supplies to continue the production for the foreseeable future.
Another challenge is to reach the recipient organization. Hospitals cannot accept our donations directly because of liability concern. We have to work through personal contacts to reach senior managers at those institutions who know and trust us.
The governors of Maryland and Virginia have issued stay-at-home order. This doesn't help, but luckily there is an exception made for non-profit organizations, so our volunteers can still drive around to pick up materials.
Finally, the price of the raw materials is going through the roof if we want delivery within days.
CSS East started this project a week ago, and thanks to the incredible effort of our volunteers, we have been able to produce more than 300 masks meeting our specs as of today! So far, our volunteers have donated all the materials and labor. Because of material cost increases, the cost of our mask (including materials, packaging, labeling, etc.) is expected to go up very quickly ! We want to give at least 2 masks per worker. Since our ambition is to scale up the operation to produce up to a thousand masks per week, our cost will easily run in the ten of thousands! We need your help!
Please donate by writing a check to "CSS East", memo "Masks" and sending it to:
CSS East Treasurer
2735 Sutton Rd, Vienna VA 22181
Donating by check is our preferred method. But we can also accept donations on-line via Paypal or Credit card at:
100% of your donation will go toward project expenses and is tax deductible.
We started out with Georgetown Medstar Hospital, but as we ramp up, we will branch out to other local hospitals such as Virginia Hospital Center (Arlington), Inova (Alexandria, Mount Vernon, Fairfax, FairOaks, etc.), Reston Hospital in Virginia, Suburban Hospital (Bethesda), Adventist Medical Center (Washington, Rockville), Holy Cross in Maryland and others, plus hospices, nursing homes, assisted living homes, retirement centers in Virginia, DC, and Maryland. We will keep going until we either run out of resources or the need is met.
This is a complex endeavour and I'm sure you have a lot of questions, such as what type of masks, who is it for, how do I know it works, etc. So I put up a Frequency Asked Questions page which can be accessed here (and continually updated):
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Before concluding, I would like to express my gratitude to our volunteer seamstresses, donors, and volunteers (Dr. Quốc Dũng, chị Phương Mỹ, chị Loan Anh, chị Ðoan Hạ, chị Hồng, chị Huyền Mai, chị Kathy Thái, chị Linh Sương, chị Ngọc Thanh, chị Đào, Phương Thúy Phan, Tường An, Phượng Phan, Mai-Ly, Chính Tín). They have rallied spontaneously, worked tirelessly and cheerfully, came up with creative solutions, drove everywhere to pick up and deliver supplies, used their own money to buy materials, and truly exemplified the CSS spirit of volunteerism and community service.
We also benefited from our partnership and coordination with the "Hope for Tomorrow" charity who has donated medical masks, and is helping us connect with needy recipient organizations.
The next 2-4 weeks are expected to be the toughest ones for our area. CSS East is working day and night to ramp up to meet the demand within this time frame. Please forward this appeal widely among your friends and family who could help.
Please stay healthy, stay safe, and take care of each other.
PS: CSS East also needs support for our own operation as we need to pay for our HQ, even when we are closed and we are not using it. If you could help, please write check with memo "CSS East".
Sample masks made out of Halyard materials
A small production
Volunteers, of all age, working...
Packages of masks with
"Made with Love by CSS East" label!
First 2 recipients for the masks from Georgetown Medstar!