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Amy Allen, CNA has spent time in her off hours to help sew masks for the Southern Hills staff and residents.

Since the WHO announced the Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic status in early March, long-term care facilities have been on the front lines of the health and safety battle.  With senior citizens being some of the most “at risk” from the virus, the need for protective gear – from essential N95 hospital-grade face-masks to personal protective equipment (PPE), like gloves and gowns – have been in high demand and access has been limited. That’s where the manufacturing community, staffers and residents in Clarke County and Osceola, Iowa stepped up.

Earlier in the week, the Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC) started working with the staff at Southern Hills Specialty Care facility in Osceola to procure additional essential supplies to help with the safety and protection of their 89 senior residents.  Asking for donations or additional support from the manufacturing industry, Bill Trickey, Executive Director of the CCDC and Destiny Boeve, Administrator for Southern Hills were able to collect a generous supply of masks as well as some other essential items.

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Sara Hiatt and Keri Barton work together on mask templates for the staff and residents.

Altec’s Osceola body plant was instrumental in donations, providing 3,000 latex gloves for the facility. And SIMCO Drilling Equipment, Inc, donated a surplus of high-grade masks and gloves as soon as the call was made.

“Having been part of the Osceola and Clarke County community for decades, we simply wanted to help wherever we could,” said Darren Swolley, General Manager at SIMCO. “These are the times when community means more than ever.”

Other local businesses, including Cathy’s Auto Body and Cactus Farms, were also quick to join in the roundup of supplies. The team at Boyt Harness donated thousands of masks from their Missouri plant to hospitals and facilities in need there.

“This is what makes my job such a pleasure,” said Trickey. “When the community is in need, our business network knows how to deliver.”

Southern Hills staff members, residents, family members and friends alike have joined together to help with the cause, sewing from mask templates for residents and staffers to use while other donation efforts are in the works. Boeve’s own grandmother, Kathy Klein sewed 100 masks for the staff and is working on washable gowns for the program. Southern Hills staffer and CNA, Amy Allen brought her seamstress talents back in her off hours just to help with the production as well.

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Kristin Parmer, Brenda Parsons, and Irvel Oshel work on sewing additional masks for the staff at Southern Hills.

With the influx of masks and gloves, the need for other safety materials has become a priority. Materials for sewing additional masks as well as gowns and other PPEs are still needed to help the staff properly care for the residents.

“We couldn’t be more blessed,” said Boeve. “Our community really knows how to come together in a time of crisis.”

Boeve went on to stress the need for basic sewing materials like needles and thread for additional masks for mending gowns. And the donation of more N95 masks, gowns, or PPEs remains on the priority list for the foreseeable future.

If you have access to the items needed for the care of the residents at Southern Hills or have items you can donate, please reach out to Destiny Boeve at Southern Hills Care Center, 444 N W View Drive, Osceola, IA 50213, phone: 641-342-6061.