One of the face masks produced by Mary Ann Drapcho, of Sandwich, for donation to Lakes Region General HealthCare. (Courtesy photo)

LACONIA — Facing the possibility of a looming shortage of medical face masks, Lakes Region Healthcare President and CEO Kevin Donovan said Monday he greatly appreciates people who are donating this key piece of personal protection equipment.

“It’s hard to quantify how critical a shortage we will have at this point,” he said. “We were well-prepared with a cache of supplies, but use of personal protective equipment (PPE) depends upon how many patients we ultimately treat, which depends upon how seriously the community takes social distancing,” he said.

“If we look at CDC projections on the surge of patients to come, we know that we will run out of critical supplies at some point. That’s why donations are so appreciated.”

Quilters have stepped up locally to help.

Mary Ann Drapcho, of Sandwich, said she made 12 face masks this morning, using a specific instructions and a video on the Dartmouth-Hitchcock website —

They must be 100 percent cotton. Drapcho had the material on hand and was able to get sufficient elastic from a seamstress in town. Others are joining her in the volunteer effort.

She said homeless shelters and nursing homes have a need for face masks as well.

Drapcho said hospitals sterilize the masks once they get them. She said those who don’t feel well or think they may have been exposed to the virus should not get involved.

“I’m a quilter and I felt like I needed to do something,” she said. “You have to do the best you can. I happened to have a lot of fabric here.

“Everybody wants to do something. It’s the right thing to do. We are called to do something in this life.”

Jennifer Gagnon, of Sanbornton, has completed 50 masks.

She had the cotton, but found that elastic is in short supply.

She got the idea to make the masks after learning about the shortage while watching the news.

“I said I have so much scrap material, ‘Hey, what if I made them out of scrap,'” Gagnon said. “I posted a thing on Facebook and it just blew up.

“What better way to utilize my time than to make face masks for people in need.”

People who want to donate the masks to LRGH can call Maureen Wilkins at 524-3001, ext 3001. LRGH is also establishing a central call in number for donations and placing a drop-box at the front entrance to Lakes Region General Hospital.

Wilkins said the donations are much appreciated.

“With over 400 nursing staff, not counting providers and ancillary patient care staff, we anticipate a large need,” she said in an email.

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