Hemstreet and Powell have known each other for many years through cooperative networks. In mid-March, Powell was having a difficult time getting masks for her workforce. When she saw an article about sewers in Los Angeles making masks for health care workers, the light bulb went off and she decided to reach out to Hemstreet to see if the sewers at Opportunity Threads could become her supplier. The timing was perfect, as in response to local needs, Hemstreet was already in the process of developing prototypes. In the spirit of cooperative mutual aid, Hemstreet added CHCA to the list of priority customers.
The Opportunity Threads partnership, says Powell, will help CHCA manage the critical shortage of PPE, which has emerged since the outbreak of COVID-19, particularly since New York City is prioritizing hospital, nursing home, and EMS workers during this crisis. “With masks and other PPE, aides will be better prepared to manage concerns about contracting or spreading the virus as they care for their clients in the community and travel to and from their clients’ homes,” says Powell. “Also, we have 80 aides who are currently quarantined—i.e., exposed to someone who tested positive COVID-19 or exhibiting symptoms associated with the virus. The better we are at keeping everyone well protected, the less we have to worry about the spread of COVID-19 and the less disruptive it is to our ability to serve clients and support our workforce.”