Around Australia, medical scrubs are in short supply, and hobbyists are stepping up to lend a hand.
- Nearly 900 people have joined a Facebook sewing group that makes scrubs for health workers
- Health workers need scrubs because of the coronavirus, and shortages have made them hard to find
- A non-for-profit fashion school in Melbourne says it has been flooded with orders for scrubs
Doctors, nurses and other hospital staff wear scrubs under their personal protective equipment (PPE), but the garments have been difficult to buy lately.
Louise Parry, a doctor who treats patients with coronavirus at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital, was shocked when she tried to order new scrubs and discovered they would take six weeks to arrive.
“We don’t normally wear scrubs and we’re all looking to buy them for the COVID ward,” Dr Parry said.
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She created The Scrubs Co-op, a Facebook group linking people with idle sewing machines to medical workers needing something to wear.
In its first week, the page attracted nearly 900 members.
“The makers are from hobby sewers and people trying it for the first time, to people who are professional dressmakers and are currently out of work,” Dr Parry said.
“We are very fortunate to still be in a position where we’re hotly in demand and being paid, [so] we’re all quite happy to pay.
“Sometimes you have to be forceful in making the makers accept payment, or we’ll donate to a charity.”
Volunteers happy to help health workers going ‘over and above’
Beginner Olivia Crowley, from New South Wales, is among the hundreds of people behind sewing machines turning out custom scrubs.
“We have a sewing machine, so I went to a little fabric shop that is struggling to buy fabric,” Ms Crowley said.
“We are willing to try our hand at making some tops, pants or caps, to support the doctors, nurses and other frontline staff.
“It allows people to contribute directly to people who we know are going over and above in the healthcare system. They’re risking their own health.
“If it’s an extra pair of scrubs that helps and takes the pressure off, then I think it’s a really good thing for people to be able to do.”
Sewing tips and patterns are shared on The Scrubs Co-op page, creating a community for those isolated at home, or working hard in the country’s hospitals.
Many health workers ask for special requests, like an extra pocket in their scrubs.
One emergency room doctor even asked for some scrubs featuring unicorns.
“I’m really looking forward to him getting them and posting the pictures up on there,” Dr Parry said.
Dr Parry’s homemade scrubs, meanwhile, are in the post from Queensland.
“She’s making me surprise ones,” Dr Parry said.
“I said some printed ones, and I don’t actually know what the fabric is. We’ll see what I get.”
Not-for-profit fashion school ‘flooded’ with scrubs orders
The group is one of dozens of creative solutions being developed to solve to the scrubs shortage.
The Social Studio, a not-for-profit fashion school and clothing manufacturer for people of migrant and refugee backgrounds, has also answered the call.
“We responded to that call by last Friday morning, ordering fabrics, making some patterns and leaping straight into it,” chief operating officer Aleksandra Nedeljkovic said.
“We have dedicated all of our production resourcing towards this project.
“We’re trying to produce as many as we can. At the moment the orders are flooding in.”
The group’s first orders have been shipped out yesterday.
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Ms Nedeljkovic said the organisation was investigating whether it could also start producing medical grade PPE.
“We’ve registered to create PPE equipment as well with the Government. We’re still kind of exploring those avenues,” she said.
“We’re just looking at different ways to support our clients through this time and still keep our workers busy.”
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