Two months ago, owners of the Hyatt Family Facilities knew they needed more personal protective equipment for their staff amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The family manages two long-term care centers in Yakima: Landmark Care and Rehabilitation and Willow Springs Care and Rehabilitation.
Angela Hyatt said N95 masks were suddenly unavailable because of the new coronavirus. Obtaining additional isolation gowns for staff also involved shipping delays that wouldn’t address the immediate need.
“Our regular PPE suppliers are doing everything they can, but the demand far outweighs the supply,” she said.
The state response has prioritized supplying hospitals, health care providers, and first responders with personal protective gear.
Jeff Hyatt contacted his long-term friend Scott Ruark, the lead pastor at Selah Covenant Church. The church’s members were happy to help. Ruark also called other churches, enlisting the help of Yakima Covenant Church, Memorial Bible Church, and Harvest Church in the supply-making efforts.
“Our goal is to serve the community, so it was awesome he asked for help,” Ruark said.
Ruark’s mother is a seamstress. She designed a pattern for the isolation gowns, using several provided by Jeff Hyatt as examples. Ruark said church posts on Facebook also resulted “boxes and bags” of donations of sheets, elastic and supplies, both from church members and others not affiliated with the churches who wanted to help.
“We live in an incredible town that’s about helping people,” he said. “This was a communitywide effort, and an example of our community serving and coming together.”
Meanwhile, Angela had posted about the centers’ needs on Facebook. The community’s response was immediate and overwhelming, she said.
Community members donated supplies including fabric sheets, elastic and yarn, and also helped with sewing other supplies and deliveries. One high school friend donated more than 70 handmade knit hats and scarves, which the center’s activities director bestowed on the centers’ COVID-19 survivors as “badges of honor,” Angela Hyatt said.
Barb Petrea, a friend of Angela Hyatt, said she became involved when she saw the family’s posts on Facebook. Petrea’s mother, who died several years ago, had left rooms full of fabric and sewing supplies that Petrea donated to the cause.
“She was very into philanthropy, and she would have loved to be a part of this,” Petrea said. “We had never given any of her supplies away, and now we know the reason why. This was a safe way to jump in and do something small for a larger cause.”
The Hyatts wanted to recognize several other community members for their help: Nancy Faulkner, who has sewed more than 250 masks; Sydney Horner for dozens of deliveries; and Lori Spencer for organizational help. Others on the list are Annette Menard and the ladies from B+C Sewing; Petrea, Ruth McBride, Tammy Allan, Jason Finley, Arlene and Galen Finley and LaWauna Cappa.
The Hyatts said gowns and supplies are dropped off at their home and the Ruarks’ home, picked up at Allan Insurance, packaged and delivered to the Landmark and Willow Springs centers as needed.
Tammy Allan, of Allan Insurance, said the office is giving out free masks to whomever might need one. People can stop by between 9 a.m and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 312 S. First St. in Selah. Allan, who has made 23 masks for the effort, said she’s glad she’s been able to help.
“I told them I would keep sewing until the need had been met,” Allan said. “I’m glad I could help somewhere in this crazy pandemic, if only to lighten the load for someone else.”
Angela Hyatt said all licensed staff must change personal protective equipment each time they provide care to someone. Having the extra gowns and supplies means staff can visit residents more frequently and reduce the loneliness many feel from not being able to see their families for two months due to the quarantine.
“Those isolation gowns allow our staff to go into the residents’ rooms more often and to do activities with them that alleviate that loneliness,” she said.
Staff also appreciate knowing the community cares about their safety.
“They know that those gowns were made for them, with intention, to help protect them, and they appreciate it so much,” Angela Hyatt said. “This has literally saved lives.”