Retired XU nursing professor making masks for elderly in Tri-State

Nursing professor making masks for the elderly

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A former nursing professor is making homemade masks for the elderly after a nation-wide mask shortage due to COVID-19.

Cheryl Leksan, who has more than 30 years experience in the field, is using both her medical and sewing skills to make the masks. She says it started after she saw a post on Facebook asking for donations. She then learned local senior citizens were in need of some.

“The masks I’m making are not medical-grade,” said Leksan, a former nursing professor at Xavier University. “With medical-grade masks, it’s really important to filter as much as the viral particles as possible, and those viruses are so tiny, you really need to have special materials, non-woven materials, and those are not readily available.”

Leksan says her research shows a layer of cloth is only about 10 percent effective against the Coronavirus. She's been using three layers in her home-made masks.

“It’s better than nothing,” said Leksan. “With these three layers of fabric, we can increase that to 25 percent, which is better than no mask at all.”

The healthcare professional says the masks have other benefits, like helping people to avoid touching their faces.

So far, she's made 75 masks with the help of her son and has worked on them for more than five hours in the last two days.

“What I’m doing is assembly line, step one to all of them. It’s a little more efficient that way,” Leksan said.

Once she’s done with her latest round of masks, she will drop them off at a center for senior citizens in Hamilton.

“I think we have to remember the most vulnerable population, especially, like, our senior citizens,” Leksan said.

She also says people with COPD or emphysema should only wear mask when they absolutely need to.

Leksan got many of her fabrics for the mask from JoAnn Fabrics. The national store is staying open right now and is considered "essential" because of the supplies they sell.

JoAnn Fabrics posted a nine-minute video on Facebook that shows how to make homemade masks.

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