Have Sewing Machine, Will Help!

 Updated: April 9, 2020

  Tags: COVID-19Volunteer

homemade caps

Retired health care professionals across the nation – RTs included – are being asked to consider coming back to work to help their former colleagues weather the COVID-19 crisis. Some can and will – but others suffer from comorbidities of their own that make such a move unwise or even impossible.

That doesn’t mean they can’t find creative ways to get involved.
Linda Smith, RRT, FAARC, is one of them.

“I am now retired, and as much as I would like to help, I am too old with too many comorbidities,” said the Maryland resident.

Feeling frustrated, she got in touch with the respiratory therapy director at her local hospital, who she had worked with in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, thinking that surely there was something she could do.

“I called to offer ordering lunch for her shifts just to show some support,” Smith said. “She declined lunch right now because morale was still good, but she did let me know what was going on. They were quickly running out of masks.”

Thoughts of lunch were quickly abandoned as Smith got busy calling local surgical centers and any other place she could think of that might have masks to spare. After many, many calls to everyone from nail salons to furniture restorers to auto body repair shops, she finally came up with six boxes of masks for the department.

Her old friend was beyond grateful. And she knew she’d found a willing helper in Smith. Not long after, Smith got a text from the manager telling her they needed surgical hats too.

“So, beginning today, my sister and I will begin making enough hats for her therapists,” Smith told us at the beginning of last week. She noted they aren’t breaking any stay at home rules to do it either, as she lives with her sister and brother-in-law, and her sister – a retired occupational therapist – is a quilter and already has all the supplies they need on hand.

linds smith and sister
Member Linda Smith and her sister.

That was on Sunday March 29. Four 10-hour days later, she and her sister had completed the task and Smith delivered 82 of the hats to the department.

Share your story

If you are a retired RT helping out in the COVID-19 crisis, email Addie.Matthews@AARC.org with your story! We’d love to share it with your fellow AARC members.

Wondering what departments in your area might need? The Communities on AARConnect are a good place to ask that question.