Long Branch, NJ, April 22, 2020 — Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, images of doctors and nurses with raw, bruised faces from hours endured behind personal protective equipment have become widespread.
Now staff at Monmouth Medical Center are getting relief from the pressure on their ears from the elastic straps of face masks thanks to the generosity of an Ocean Township resident.
Alix Hayes has donated more than 200 home-made stretch headbands with buttons on the side to Monmouth Medical Center to make wearing masks less painful. Hayes, who works in corporate communications and “felt helpless sending $20 here and there for meals while sitting in her home office,” said she is “not a big sewer, but can do a button.”
What started in late March as a one-woman shop has been expanded to a small army of adult and teenage volunteers who are assisting with the sewing.
“I do have a little army right now – adult and college and high school students – who are helping out,” she says, noting that as the president of the PTA at her children’s Ocean Township elementary school, she is very experienced organizing activities and volunteers. “I believe we have made nearly 500 headbands so far, with the largest percentage going to MMC, but we have donated to other area hospitals, including RWJBarnabas Health sister hospitals RWJUH New Brunswick and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, and care facilities as well.”
The cost of the headbands and buttons has been paid by Hayes, with additional donations by a family friend who is a retired nurse, as well additional donors. “Of course, we’re doing this all for free; it’s the least we can do,” she adds.
She has scowered local dollar and discount stores as well as online outlets offering inexpensive headbands, and has fashioned what she terms “dude head wraps” out of solid stretch material for men who are working on the frontline at the hospital.
“Everyone wants to help in any way they can,” she said, adding a neighbor recently dropped off 100 buttons. “It’s become a real community effort.”
At MMC, the headbands have been distributed to frontline staff, and the response has been incredible, according to Maureen Bowe, Administrative Director of Critical Care, Renal Services and Nursing Resources for the hospital.
“Everyone loved the headbands with the buttons so the masks don’t hurt your ears,” she said. “We love that our community is thinking of all of us — so thoughtful and so generous too!”
Local hospital workers who would like a headband free of charge, with Ocean Township pick-up, can email [email protected]. Visit www.rwjbh.org/heroes to share your thanks or to make donations to our Emergency Response Fund.