500 Surgical Gowns to be Delivered through Local Joint Initiative

BRAC, Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge collaborate on Sewing Safe Project

Baton Rouge, La. (April 9, 2020) – In response to the regional shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) needed by front-line healthcare workers in their COVID-19 response, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) is connecting regional manufacturers, businesses and nonprofits with the resources, equipment, and volunteers to locally source, produce, and deliver in-demand items. The Sewing Safe Project was established in partnership with the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge to engage local sewists to create nurses’ surgical gowns from an approved pattern to meet demand at local hospitals.

The Sewing Safe Project will deliver its first order of 500 gowns this week to the Baton Rouge General, with an additional 300 set to be delivered in the next 10 days. Another 100 gowns are on order to be delivered to Woman’s Hospital.

“Artists and community members were excited to use their talents to help the dedicated professionals in our local hospitals,” said Renee Chatelain, president/CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. “The job opportunities created for artists and other community members has made a huge difference, as well, and we are grateful to be part of this collective to address such a critical need.”

Thompson Pipe Group and Baton Rouge Community College collaborated to conform and cut original patterns for the first order. Knock Knock Children’s Museum served as a pick up and drop off point for materials.

“It has been incredible to see the regional community quickly innovate and respond to the call from our healthcare system,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of BRAC. “We are proud to be the conduit for this work, and look forward to more positive outcomes.”

Other items, such as shoe covers, masks, and caps, could be constructed through the same method upon request. PPE created through the program is delivered at cost, offering major cost savings to health systems who are facing bidding wars and limited supply through traditional procurement methods.

“Every hospital in the country is looking for supplies right now – it’s a daily challenge,” said Stephen Mumford, COO of Baton Rouge General. “That’s why we’re so proud of this community and our local businesses for working together in creative ways to support our team on the front line.”

The Arts Council, as point of contact, is open to receiving orders from the 11-parish region it serves, including the parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, Tangipahoa, Washington, West Feliciana, and West Baton Rouge.

Sewists include professional textile artists and temporary part-time employees who have been furloughed, along with hobbyists and local quilting guilds. Roughly 10 percent of the 60+ sewists are donating their time in whole or in part, while the others are able to supplement lost pay from regular sources through this opportunity. Funds that would have been allocated to those donating their time are instead being redirected to the Arts Council’s Creative Relief program.

The Capital Region is experiencing a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) needed by front-line healthcare workers in their COVID-19 response. Of particular need are germicidal wipes, hand sanitizer, surgical masks, procedure masks, N95 masks, gowns and protective drapes, goggles, and latex and non-latex gloves of all sizes. Regional leaders are looking for business assistance in the following ways:

  1. Businesses with the above-mentioned items available to donate may do so Monday through Friday, 9 – 11 a.m., at 9455 Plank Road. Contact 225-763-4240 or PPEdonations@brhealthdistrict.com for further instruction. The donation site is an initiative organized by the Baton Rouge Health District, and is currently primarily intended for business to business donations. Please make sure to only include clean, boxed, sealed, and unused containers.
  2. Manufacturers who are interested and able to transition their production to one of the needed items are encouraged to do so. Contact Donnie Miller at donnie@brac.org for guidance.
  3. Businesses or makers with technical abilities to innovate needed items through 3D printing should contact Stephen Loy with the Louisiana Tech Park at stephen@latechpark.com.

Photos from the first delivery are attached. Please credit Tim Mueller Photography in usage.

About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) leads economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area, working to grow jobs and wealth and to improve the business climate and competitiveness in the region. Today, BRAC investors include more than 1,500 small businesses, mid-sized firms, large industry and entrepreneurial startups, as well as individuals and organizations that support business and economic development. In this capacity, BRAC serves as the voice of the business community, providing knowledge, access, services and advocacy. More information is available at brac.org.

About the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge       

The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, domiciled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  The organization is the official arts agency for the City of Baton Rouge and a Regional Arts Council serving the following parishes:  Ascension, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, St. Helena, Tangipahoa, and Washington. More information is available at artsbr.org.


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