With the shortage of N95 masks amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Tommye Austin and other health care professionals have feared for their safety.
Tommye is the senior vice president and chief nurse executive of University Health System in San Antonio, Texas. While they had plenty of personal protective equipment when the outbreak began, Tommye knew they might eventually run out. So she took it upon herself to design an alternative!
Tommye said she felt compelled to do something when the CDC announced that doctors and nurses should use bandanas or scarves if N95 masks weren’t available. “Our nurses were up in arms,” she said. “And I was alarmed as well.”
She knew she had to protect her staff — and all the other frontline health care workers across the nation. So in April, she stopped by a local hardware store and bought some air conditioner filters.
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Following long shifts at the hospital, she put her sewing skills to good use. She experimented with various mask designs, placing filters between their layers. Then she added a small piece of metal to ensure her masks would fit snugly over the nose.
A little over a week later, Tommye perfected the TM 2020 or “Tommye Mask.”
Not only is her design more comfortable than N95 masks, but it also has better filtration! A test by Southwest Research Institute found that her TM 2020s remove 96.5 percent of airborne particles, while N95 masks remove 95 percent. Plus, their air pockets allow carbon dioxide to escape more easily.
Requests for her brilliant PPE came flooding in, and while she isn’t selling the masks, she has released instructions so everyone can create them. She has also shared the design with other hospitals and even sent masks she made to others in need, including a friend’s daughter who had used the same N95 mask for close to two months.
Way to step up for the heroes of the pandemic, Tommye! You’re certainly one of them!
Learn more about these masks in the video below, and share this story to spread the word about this lifesaving design.
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