Completed masks for use by the Delta County Memorial Hospital. These masks are intended for the use of non-medical use by visitors, hospice patients, etc.

By Lucas Vader

Staff Writer

In the midst of an unusual crisis, several groups and entities within Delta County have begun to make masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. One such group which operates out of the Surface Creek area, has upwards of 22 volunteers and produces masks for the hospital.

The group is headed by Jude Kieca of Cedaredge, who said she is very thankful for the help but that the demand for masks is still far beyond what they’re able to supply.

“We don’t think, the hospital, the medical community don’t think that we’ve hit our peak of patients,” Kieca said “The need for masks is very important.”

Kieca has a quick connection to the Delta County Memorial Hospital. Her daughter, Dr. Jennifer Craig, is an emergency department physician there, as well as the operational director for the disaster response team. Craig regularly picks up completed masks from Kieca so they can be used in the hospital for hospice patients, visitors and general non-medical personnel.

“They are being washed and reused but there is a limited life because they’re going through the commercial washing machines in the hospital,” Kieca said.

While careful sanitation is even more important than normal during these times, the masks come with a practical feature as well. They’re reversible. Each side has a different pattern on the cotton material so that users are aware of which side they’ve been using at any given time. This feature is at the request of the hospital.

Kieca said that, in order to properly construct the masks so that they’re acceptably sanitary for in-hospital use, volunteers do need to know how to sew.

“But we do have people that are cutting the masks,” Kieca said, “and so if I have some people that are just wanting to sew, then I can get them masks that are cut out and all they have to do is sew them together.”

Kieca has material available for those who want to volunteer. At this time, volunteers have gotten the material from her, taken it home, constructed the masks and then returned those masks to Kieca.

Despite the need for more volunteers, Kieca said she was grateful for the volunteers who have been helping out alongside her. Those volunteers are Claudia Lopez, Deb Aspen, Claudia Udd, Linda Grunkemeyer, Nancy Carlson, Joyce Garman, Coni Wolfe, Kathy Bradbury, Pat Masinton, Kathleen Morse, Nancy Snowdon, Susan Schenfelder, Joan Kennen, Mary Bellville, Balerie Baker, Sharon Dyer, Jan Blue, Kim Besel, Jo Dickes, Linda Black, Karen Locke and Sabina Jones.

Anyone who would like to volunteer or would like more info regarding the mask-making process can call Kieca at 970-856-7331.

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