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Two Tucson VA nurses go from 12-hour overnight shifts to the sewing table

Making masks for coworkers, friends and family
Posted at 6:22 AM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 11:13:22-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — After a long, overnight shift at the Tucson VA Medical Center, you can find two nurses glued to their sewing machine and scissors.

Tony Shrader and Patricia Reichelt are making medical masks for their coworkers, friends and family in their free time. They're nurses at the VA, who are working extra during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"PPE (Personal Protective Gear) for work is meant for work, and I thought if I could make some masks for my coworkers to be out In public I thought it would help," Shrader said.

Shrader does the sewing and Reichelt does the cutting.

They're using a Halyard H600 two-ply spun polypropylene, a sterilized material found in surgical units that is typically thrown away.

Researchers at the University of Florida found this material is 4% more effective than the N95 masks.

"It gives you the security that the airborne is not going to get through, so that it helps me feel a little bit safer that it is a little more protective than just a cloth," Reichelt said.

The pair are a pretty well-oiled machine that started 14 years ago.

"We met at a bar because we're both Packer fans!" Shrader said. "She's like my sister from another mister."

Reichelt said Shrader is also like "my brother from another mother".

They've made 75 masks so far, but said they want stopped until the need is met.