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Meeting the challenge: Verde sews

In Cottonwood, hundreds of volunteers have organized under the name Verde Sews to create isolation gowns for Northern Arizona Healthcare. On Friday May 1st, they reached their ambitious goal of sewing 2,020 gowns. 

“All of these women are strong. They put in hundreds of hours and I've seen new friendships develop. I've seen people pouring out their hearts to help,” says Julie Bachman, organizer of Verde Sews. “I've seen people home bound that can't get out, that we made sure their names were signed on our volunteer gown. I've been a part of this community a long time. And so I know a lot of these women personally, and I just can't tell you how heartfelt our project's been.” 

Answering the call 

Verde Sews was formed in late March when NAH was just entering the heart of the pandemic. 

“The moment we knew we had to do something about it is when the hospital asked us because we felt like if they asked us, that they were reaching out for help. And of course, you saw on the news where the supplies weren't available, so we're like, well we'll make it available and we went after sheets,” Bachman shared. 

The work has been crucial to ensuring continued care, especially at Verde Valley Medical Center. Lori Green is the Chief Nursing Officer for NAH in the Verde market. “When this all started, we were almost completely out of yellow isolation gowns and the fear was very significant at that time. And we were looking at what are going to be our options for isolation gowns and this group, (beginning) from a small number of people to a very, very large number of people, they've created an assembly line here.” 

No two the same 

The volunteers started with bedsheets from home but the project quickly grew, with cloth donations through merchants and from around the community. 

“And then we were able to get fabric and that's when the colorful gowns became a creation because we had all these beautiful colors and we decided that no two are going to match. And I'm pretty sure you'll never find two gowns out of the 2000 that match, because none of us are perfectionists,” according to Bachman. “We didn't care. The ties didn't match; the sleeves didn't match, but the colors were well received by the staff.” 

Lori Green says the gowns have boosted morale, “They started sending us messages, showing us the work they were doing, and I have literally seen some of the gowns that they have posted on Facebook, being put on by ICU or tele nurses. It is just amazing to see that. And I have to say, some of our physicians and our staff have talked about what it feels like to them. It's a hug, at a time where we can't even hug one another.” 

Now that the goal of more than 2,000 isolation gowns is met, Bachman and the Verde Sews volunteers are understandably proud of their contribution. “So what has it meant that we made a difference in this time of crisis? I think, we'll just go down in history as like, we didn't just crawl into a hole. We came out, and we fought for what we needed in our town.”