Casper volunteers step up to sew protective medical clothing (PHOTOS) - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Casper volunteers step up to sew protective medical clothing (PHOTOS)

Loretta Miller ties a completed surgical gown on volunteer Starla Kull on Monday, March 30, at Kalico Kat Quilt Shop in Casper. Miller organized sewing enthusiasts across Casper to help make medical personal protection equipment (PPE) to donate to the Wyoming Medical Center. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. – Skilled seamstresses and quilt-makers have always taken their craft seriously.

Over the past few weeks as it becomes clear that sewing can potentially save lives, that seriousness has intensified.

The COVID-19 pandemic has depleted supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals around the globe. In hard hit areas the situation is dire, putting essential medical workers and patients at serious risk.

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Lately, sewing communities have been volunteering to make reusable PPEs, and Casper is no exception.

Several seamstresses gathered on Monday morning at Kalico Kat Quilt Shop for a marathon round of PPE sewing. The group hopes to have 200 medical gowns and dozens of masks ready to donate to the WMC by Tuesday.

“It is a big deal,” said Loretta Miller, a sewing enthusiast who has not only organized dozens of volunteers across town, but also designed patterns for hospital gowns, masks and caps that are easy enough for novice sewers to follow.

“They’ve been coming out of the woodwork,” said Miller on the volunteers. “They take it seriously and the community has rallied.”

Recently, Miller reached out to the Wyoming Medical Center asking if she could help with supplies in any way, according to WMC spokesperson Kristy Bleizeffer.

After consulting with medical professionals, Miller had prototypes built within a couple of days.

Jenny Vass threads her vintage portable sewing machine while making protective masks on Monday. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Miller says people across the country have taken her patterns and started their own sewing groups to help locally. She also partnered with Staples business supply stores, who will print out the patterns free of charge locally anywhere in the country for volunteers there. The patterns can also be picked up in Casper at Kalico Kat Quilt Shop, 1239 S. Elk St.

As she sews PPEs in the group, Starla Kull has her daughter in Salt Lake City on her mind along with other medical professionals on the front line.

“My daughter’s a doctor so I want them to be safe,” said Kull. “I want her to have what she needs, so I’m willing to make them for whoever needs them.”

Kull started sewing about three weeks ago before finding Miller’s group.

Tammy Wingett watched a tutorial on YouTube to make her first round of face masks.

“At first I thought there would be enough people doing it,” said Wingett on making PPEs. “Then I realized there weren’t.”

“Why not do something to help out,” she said.

Anyone interested in getting Loretta Miller’s patterns or volunteering with the group can email her at The Wyoming Medical Center’s guidelines for PPEs can be found here. Each gown requires about 2 yards of fabric. Fabric donations to the group from those who can’t sew are also welcome. All donations and volunteering are being coordinated by Miller, who should be contacted directly. More information on WMC’s needs and the volunteer effort can be found here.

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Volunteers examine a completed medical gown before starting their projects on Monday morning. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:

What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email:

  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.