Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians

Public Awareness

Facing a Supply Shortage with a Church’s Help

Dr. Delora Denney, a family physician in Picayune, models a cloth mask handmade by a church member.

March 19, 2020 – Volunteers at First Baptist Church of Picayune are working to help their church members who are doctors, like Dr. Delora Denney, a Picayune family physician. They know Dr. Denney and her clinic staff need face masks to protect themselves during the COVID-19 outbreak.

It’s hard to overstate how important having face masks and other safety equipment is for physicians and nurses right now. “When we realized we had a shortage of masks, we tried to order them, but they’re all back-ordered,” Dr. Denney said. “We need to be able to see patients who may have COVID-19 without having to self-quarantine for 14 days afterwards.”

In a conversation with longtime friend and colleague Dr. Jimmy Riser of Picayune about how his clinic was handling the shortage, Dr. Denney found out he and his staff were using cloth masks and making them in the office. That gave Dr. Denney the idea, and she discussed it with FBC’s Pastor Tony Lambert. After finding church members who are skilled at sewing, FBC organized the project. “We’ve been strategizing about how to help,” Lambert said, “and it just fit perfectly.”

Within a day, a church volunteer had sewn a prototype mask and left it at Dr. Denney’s clinic to see if it would work, and Denney and her husband, a nurse, gave feedback on how to improve the design. Then, the church members began sewing in earnest.

“Today, we have 15 sewing machines going,” Lambert said on Thursday. Volunteers were sewing in their homes and others were working at machines set up at the church. They plan to deliver the masks as soon as possible to the doctors.

Dr. Denney said she and her staff plan to wash the masks in hot water and re-use them. If possible, she wants to give them out to patients who need them to protect their own families from the virus while they quarantine at home.

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