Several members of the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School community are doing their part to fight COVID-19 — from creating facemasks to helping a local hospital expand its capacity to care for coronavirus patients.
“All of us are making sacrifices right now, but no one is sacrificing more than the medical providers and first responders across the nation,” said Superintendent-Director Edward Bouquillon, who has sewn dozens of masks at home with his wife, Diane. “We want to help in any way we can. I’m so proud of the students and staff who are using their skills to pitch in.”
Three siblings from Arlington who all attend Minuteman — junior Jacob Woolf and freshmen Leah and Mari Woolf — are volunteering for MasksOn, an initiative launched in recent weeks to retrofit snorkel masks with medical-grade breathing equipment that can be used repeatedly by clinicians. MasksOn was formed by a coalition of doctors, academics and executives from numerous organizations, including Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Mass. General Hospital, and Tufts Medical Center.
The Woolfs are volunteering with their mother, Deb Savage, who said MasksOn is working in several major cities with the goal of providing 50,000 masks to hospitals nationwide.
“There is a critical shortage of personal protective equipment worldwide,” Savage said. “The situation is dire for clinicians performing the highest risk procedures, such as inserting breathing tubes. As a parent, I’m proud of my kids for understanding the importance of helping others in need.”
Allison Sanzio, a senior in culinary arts from Stow, and her mom have been sewing face masks at home for nearly three weeks, combining efforts with a group of several others in town who are also sewing masks. The volunteers are donating the masks to local police and fire departments, hospitals and nursing homes.
Meanwhile, junior Jackson Thomas, a robotics student of Lexington, is gaining firsthand experience as an intern at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital as part of a Minuteman co-op work study program that began shortly before the coronavirus outbreak. Thomas’ intention was to assist biomedical technicians, and he is now helping a team get equipment ready for a future COVID-19 hospital wing that is in the process of being set up.
“I just want to help people in the moment. That’s all there is to it,” Thomas said. “I’m just trying to help people and gain experience.”
Thomas’ mother, Laura Thomas, is a social worker at the same hospital. Her son wears a protective mask every day and doesn’t work near COVID-19 patients.
“On the one hand, I’m really worried about him. On the other hand, I’m proud of him,” Laura Thomas said. “He’s willing to step in and help.”