Maui Filter Face Mask Project Finishes 10,411 Masks, Shuts Down Production
Volunteers working with the Maui Filter Face Mask Project surpassed their 10,000 mask goal, completing over 10,411 medical-grade filter face masks in just eight weeks.
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino was on site to help celebrate this accomplishment on Friday, May 15, presenting founder, Jennifer Oberg with a certificate of appreciation for her work to protect medical personnel on the frontlines of Maui’s COVID-19 response.
The Maui Filter Face Mask Project began in late March as a grassroots volunteer-run effort organized to address the critical shortage of N95 respirator Masks on Maui during the peak of the COVID-19 Epidemic.
“In those first few weeks of our project, demand for medical-grade masks was so high we were not sure if we could meet it,” said volunteer distribution manager and lead fundraiser, Kathy Baldwin.
Organizers say word of Maui-made medical-grade masks spread fast. “We began receiving requests from hospital staff, clinics and nursing homes totalling well over 1,000 masks a week.”
To meet demand, project leaders made adjustments to the production process and purchased specialty cutting equipment.
“We also turned to social media to recruit more volunteers,” said volunteer coordinator Julie MacMillian. “Despite our strict screening process we were able to confirm over 180 volunteers from all parts of the island, that ranged in age from 15 to 60-plus,” said MacMillan.
“We appreciate each and every Volunteer who joined us, even if it was just for a day. The new faces often added the fresh energy and enthusiasm our core team needed to maintain momentum,” said Oberg.
As a gesture of gratitude, Mask Project Leaders saved the 10,000th mask produced and presented it to Seabury Hall’s Head of School, Maureen Madden.
“The school provided the perfect temporary location for our mask manufacturing,” said Oberg, “We wanted to adhere to the CDC guidelines and create safe work spaces for our volunteers with adequate physical distancing.”
The mask assembly line flowed through seven classrooms at Seabury Hall and included two sewing rooms with a total of 15 sewing machines, cutting rooms, trimming rooms, quality inspection and distribution prep rooms.
A satellite team of medical-grade mask makers based out of the Travaasa Hotel in the East Maui community of Hāna was also hard at work during the COVID-19 crisis, completing over 206 masks in just a few short weeks.
Hāna resident Tom Bacon made two visits to the Olinda-based mask making team to observe the production process and then returned to Hāna with donated supplies. Bacon said his Hāna volunteer team even included a contingent of volunteers from Nāhiku.
Leaders within the medical community on Maui have indicated that they would like to stockpile some of these Maui-made filter face masks so that they may be prepared for any future spikes in COVID-19 cases.
“We are pleased to say the last 3,000 masks we completed have been delivered to medical team members at Maui Memorial Hospital late Friday afternoon,” said Oberg, “and it is my understanding a portion of those masks will be stored for emergency shortages.”
These dual-filter medical-grade masks have been worn by hospital staff in the Emergency Room, dialysis, admissions, radiology, respiratory therapy, COVID-19 units, labor and delivery, and endoscopy.
These dual-filter medical-grade masks were also donated to Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center; Bayada Home Health; Care Resource Hawaiʻi; Hale Mahaolu, Kaiser Home Health, Life Save Air Ambulance, and Maui Lani physicians, as well as surgeons, dental hygienists, doulas, Hāna medical professionals, Hāna first responders, optometrists, pediatricians and physical therapists.