Medical supplies are in high demand due to the coronavirus. Businesses and students contribute hand-made masks to local health care centers.

Hospitals, businesses and students work to provide COVID-19 protection


Local hospitals, businesses and students are working to help those in need as the healthcare industry experiences a shortage of medical supplies.

Alea Oakman, ‘20, uses her sewing experience to sew medical masks with her family. They donate the masks to health care workers at a children’s hospital in Delaware. (Photo courtesy of Alea Oakman)

St. Luke’s University Hospital has been able to supply an adequate number of ventilators and personal protection equipment across their network of 11 hospitals, said Samuel Kennedy, corporate communications director at St. Luke’s University Health Network. 

Kennedy said it has been difficult to care for patients who require high levels of care for multiple weeks, referring to COVID-19 as a “marathon.” 

“St. Luke’s is gratified by an outpouring of community support, including the donation of personal protection equipment that is helping to keep our caregivers safe,” Kennedy said.

Alea Oakman, ‘20, said she has been supporting her community by sewing masks for healthcare workers from home and donating them to a children’s hospital in Delaware. 

Oakman said she has been working on this project with her family, as they divide up the tasks between themselves.

“I used to sew a lot, and it has been fun to use the fabric scraps, old curtains and even some T-shirts we had lying around to make something really worthwhile,” Oakman said. 

Bethlehem resident Marisa Cerveris, a Lehigh parent, is the owner of SteelCore, a yoga, dance and pilates activewear company. She said she has recently started selling facemasks on her website. 

For each package of face masks sold, SteelCore is donating five masks to first responders. 

“When people hear that we can help them, they send me an email, and they say they need 100 or 200 masks and that they are desperate,” Cerveris said. “I say, ‘We’ll get them to you,’ and they are so happy and so excited.”

Cerveris said Sim’s Quality Market on West Broad Street will sell her masks to the public. She said she walks by the market every day, and said Sim’s wants to stay open but didn’t have enough masks for their workers, inspiring Cerveris to help out. 

Both Oakman and Cerveris said they wish they could do more to help, but are glad that they are making a difference in their respective communities.

 “I want to encourage anyone who might be even a little bit crafty to do some research and see where they can donate,” Oakman said. 

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