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Quilters come together for healthcare

Sue Guebert sewing scrub bags for local healthcare workers

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Several members of the quilting guilds in Hinton have taken up the task of making scrub bags for local healthcare workers.

Sue Guebert, who attends both guilds, said that once she ran out of elastics to make masks and heard there was a need for more scrub bags, she switched gears and started sewing those.

“The nurses can just put their scrubs in, right at work and take it home and throw it in the laundry just like that,” Guebert explained.

The drawstring bags allow health care workers to take home their scrubs after each shift and eliminate the fear of contaminating their home or families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guebert has only made a handful so far but has plenty more cloth to make more, she said. Several bags have already been delivered to the Hinton Healthcare Centre by other ladies, and Guebert has arranged for someone to pick up the bags from her porch and deliver them to the hospital. Arrangements have been made to connect seamstresses and amateur sewers with an Alberta Health Services (AHS) representative to avoid non-essential traffic into the hospital.

“It’s just a little thing I can do to help out,” Guebert said.

Guebert, like many of the other quilters, donated all their cloth and time to make the bags for healthcare workers. 

Prior to making scrub bags, she made more than 75 masks for family and friends. She added that any money that has been donated to her for making the masks has been forwarded to the Hinton Food bank.

Elastics for masks have become hard to find, and even online orders are taking a while to be delivered.

The bags just use fabric with a drawstring to close them.

“This was originally thought to be for front line COVID workers that were either stripping at the hospital and taking their clothes home in a garbage bag and fearful they would bring the virus home to their families or they were changing in their garages and trying to get their clothes into their laundry,” explained Lil Wallace, a past member of the Rocky Mountain Quilters Guild before she moved to Stony Plain.

Wallace is now the president of her quilters guild in Stony Plain, and introduced the scrub bag project to her guild there. She originally emailed her guild with the idea and a pattern for the scrub bags, but her email has since been passed around to many Albertans.

“Next thing you know I’ve got all these bags coming in,” she said.

“My last count I had over 1,500 bags that I had given to various hospitals.”

Since then, multiple Facebook groups have popped up to help organize the scrub bags project for Alberta healthcare workers.

Wallace explained that the scrub bags were intended to be a gift from Albertans to give back to healthcare workers. Quilters across the province first donated bags to front line workers and now to anybody that works in the healthcare field.

She added that the project has really given everyone in her guild a purpose.

“They could help give back to the healthcare workers and show their appreciation,” she said.

Her guild has also donated bags to Associated Ambulance, which serves Hinton, Jasper, and Edson. 

Wallace guessed each bag costs anywhere from $10 to $15, which are made of their own fabric. Most quilters have a stash of fabric, she added.

“These ladies have donated a very generous amount of themselves,” she said.

Wallace’s husband nicknamed the scrub bags, the Hinshaw bags, after Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health and front woman during COVID-19.

“He said you need a name for these, people aren’t going to know if you call them scrub bags, that’s not classy. He said call them the Hinshaw bags. That name kind of took off in the scrub bag group,” Wallace said.