Lynda Reil-Luelo is making headbands for healthcare workers in Vernon and other parts of the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She also mailed a batch to a hospital in northern Ontario Saturday, April 18, 2020. (Contributed)

Okanagan quilter makes headbands for nurses amid COVID-19

Masks can be hooked to buttons on the headbands to release pressure around the ears

A Coldstream quilter is donating mask-supporting headbands to healthcare workers in Vernon and beyond.

Lynda Reil-Luelo works for a security company at the Kelowna airport but is unable to work during the COVID-19 pandemic due to health conditions. With more time on her hands, she decided to call her friend, Christine Hesketh, who works at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital to see if she could provide any needed quilted items.

Reil-Luelo asked Hesketh about scrub caps, having heard there were shortages of the surgical caps in various parts of the country.

“She said no, they didn’t really need caps because the healthcare workers have hair nets and the doctors have these caps already. But she mentioned to me that these bandanas are something that are in need.”

Homemade masks have become common during the pandemic, but nurses and healthcare workers don’t typically use quilted masks if medical-grade masks are available.

READ MORE: Summerland quilter ready to produce reusable face masks

Reil-Luolo’s headbands complement the masks healthcare workers wear by taking pressure off the ears, reducing the need to readjust over the course of a lengthy shift.

“They hook the mask onto the buttons and it saves their ears,” she said.

Reil-Luelo says she’s made 40 to 50 masks so far and will continue to produce more as needed. From what Hesketh told her after distributing the masks at the hospital, the need hasn’t yet been filled.

“I gave her 10, and the first day she went into the hospital they were gone. She asked me for 10 more and it’s just kind of gone from there.”

Reil-Luelo’s headbands aren’t just going to Vernon healthcare workers. On Saturday, April 18, she also mailed a batch to a hospital across the country.

“My friend’s daughter is a nurse in northern Ontario and they have the same problem,” she said, adding the friend’s daughter is working at a unit designated for patients with COVID-19.

Reil-Luelo is a regular quilter and has bins full of fabric on hand. She said she’s gotten help from friends and neighbours who gave her some of the large buttons she needs for the headbands.

Reil-Luelo said her company has been gracious and understanding about her having to stay home amid COVID-19, and the headbands are a way for her to pay it forward.

“I’m a retired Mountie and because of my work and the things I’ve seen, I’ve always believed the world would be a better place if people could just be kind.”

READ MORE: Vernon women spending quarantine making masks

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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