Pittsburgh Home Health Care Agency Makes Coronavirus Protection Masks From Vacuum Cleaner Bags

    Wendy Bell
    April 01, 2020 - 10:19 am

    Amy Hancock runs a business that employs a thousand people across Pennsylvania. But those workers aren't just employees. They're family.

    "We really care about their well-being," Hancock told me Tuesday on my KDKA 1020AM radio show. "We hear about doctors and nurses running out of those N-95 masks. But we don't often think about the needs of the home health care worker."

    Hancock is the CEO of Advantage, a home health agency that provides skilled nursing and therapy services in the patient's home. Her 'family,' as she calls them, works all across the commonwealth, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and up to Erie. Hancock started to notice the Coronavirus Crisis taking a toll of her workers' morale, and their mental well-being.


    "We had to do something, not just to show them we care about them, but to prove that we care about their safety."

    So Hancock did something unusual. She went to the store and bought every vacuum cleaner bag she could find. Those bags do what the protective mechanism in the N-95 masks do and filter out 85% of airborne particulates. Hancock worked on a prototype using a soft cotton layering on either side of the vacuum filter for added comfort.

    "We have a mission to make 1,000 masks, so far, we've finished about 200," Hancock told me. Volunteers from all over the country are helping to make the remaining 800, so every Advantage healthcare worker is properly equipped. 

    Making Masks
    courtesy Advantage

    Advantage's VP of Clinical Compliance, Danielle Wareham, along with her family members, ran out to stores to get supplies for homemade face masks and also made 160 packets of homemade disinfectant wipes. Last week, Danielle and two of her daughters drove nearly 600 miles throughout PA to travel to our Mechanicsburg, Pottsville, State College, and Altoona offices to safely deliver homemade face masks and homemade disinfectant wipes to our staff members, and they also delivered the supplies to make face masks to our volunteers along the way.

    In my opinion, loving your neighbor is no different than caring for your colleagues. During this time dark of fear and worry, sometimes just knowing someone has your back - or your face - is a tremendous relief.

    To join the mask-making campaign, send an email to info@feeltheadvantage.com.

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