OU Medicine Grateful for Face Mask Donation from Mathis Brothers
Published: Tuesday, March 31, 2020
To help Oklahomans protect patients, visitors and healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Oklahoma City-based furniture retailer Mathis Brothers has begun producing cloth face masks in its mattress factory. OU Medicine and its academic partner, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center received a supply this week.
OU Medicine and OU Health Sciences Center plans to give the donated masks to visitors and patients so that direct-care providers can continue using existing supplies of face masks. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals will also wear the new face masks over their N95 masks for additional protection.
“We are very grateful to Mathis Brothers for this generous donation and the innovative use of their factory equipment to create face masks,” said OU Medical Center President Kris Gose. “Our community and state always rally around those in need when a crisis occurs.”
The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks is critical during the pandemic because virus droplets remain airborne after an infected person coughs or sneezes. As the medical response to the pandemic continues, supplies of PPE will decline, making community donations all the more important.
“We anticipate giving the masks donated by Mathis Brothers first to OU Medicine visitors and patients, whether they are at one of our clinics for a doctor’s appointment or have been admitted to the hospital. This will provide them with another layer of protection,” said Linda Salinas, M.D., epidemiologist for OU Medical Center. “Our healthcare providers can also wear the masks over their N95 masks, which provides additional safety and helps to extend the life of the N95 masks. Because our response to the pandemic is growing and changing, we are grateful to have the extra masks to use as the situation requires.”
Mathis Brothers spokesman Rit Mathis said that when the Mathis family became aware of the shortage of masks for healthcare providers, they knew they had an opportunity to make a difference.
“We immediately went to work retooling our mattress factory. Working with the nurses at OU Medical Center, we developed a mask that can be utilized in a number of applications to better protect our frontline doctors and nurses,” he said. “Within just three days, we were able to begin producing over 1,000 masks a day. We are going to continue to ramp up our efforts to give away as many of these masks as possible to our local healthcare system. We feel fortunate to be able to help in this small way in our community.”