Nursing Faculty Sews, Donates Face Masks to Local Health Professionals

By Olivia Santos | Published: March 26, 2020

Nursing Faculty Sews, Donates Face Masks to Local Health Professionals

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Inspired by her former students and current colleagues, Dr. Julie Fomenko, Assistant Professor and Director of the Simulation and Clinical Learning Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, is doing her part to in the fight against COVID-19.

“I have a colleague who is a nurse practitioner in a local urgent care clinic who recently asked me for supplies as they were nearly out and unable to get more,” said Fomenko. “I got her some masks and some basic personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies to help tide her over. But seeing the vast shortages of PPE for all our frontline nurses got me thinking… I could make them!”

Dusting off her sewing machine, Fomenko polished up on a skill she hadn’t used in more than two decades, and so far, has crafted more than three dozen medical face masks to donate to any medical professional in need. She’s doing her work in the evenings, after a full day of virtual nursing simulation labs with Islander students.

“I haven’t sewn anything in over 25 years, but I thought, it’s probably like riding a bike,” she said. “So, I pulled my sewing machine – a college graduation gift from my mom – out of the garage and started to sew. My first mask wasn’t the best, but I’ve gotten much better.”

So far, Fomenko’s masks have reached healthcare workers in local clinics, emergency rooms, and intensive care units.

“Watching the news and hearing stories from my former students now fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines, I felt helpless,” said Fomenko. “As a nursing faculty member, I’m not at the bedside any longer but this makes me feel like I’m supporting my fellow nurses.”

On a recent run to the fabric store, Fomenko said she was impressed with other community members who are also making face masks for medical professionals.

“I am not alone in this – I had a chance encounter with a man at a local craft store whose wife makes face masks for bikers, she made me a dozen masks for donation,” said Fomenko. “My church group has a few ladies that are now starting to make them and others who have donated supplies of fabric and elastic. This has truly been a group effort and I’m just so happy to help where I can.”

Fomenko says she will keep making masks until she runs out of fabric or elastic, noting that elastic has been as elusive as toilet paper and hand sanitizer to locate. If you would like to help Fomenko or make a donation, email Julie.Fomenko@tamucc.edu for more information.