Colorado Springs, Colo. (April 25, 2020) – When Kimberly Sperry, a nurse manager at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, heard that nursing staff and others on the front lines were experiencing pain behind their ears – even pressure wounds – from continuously wearing masks for long shifts, she got out her sewing machine.
She had no pattern, but set out to make headbands that would enable nurses to secure their masks to buttons on the headbands rather than on their ears.
“I just looked on Pinterest because I’m not really super crafty. And I bought a set of jersey sheets and we’ve been cutting them up. My daughter’s helped (from home), and we’ve had just about everybody coming in and helping during lunchtime.”
So far, she and other nurse managers at the hospital have made 75, delivering them in goody bags to staff in the ICU over the past week. Her goal is to make 150 to distribute to colleagues.
The headbands are designed to work with any mask that loops around the ears, although they will be of most benefit to those who have to regularly wear N95 masks.
“The N95 has to fit very, very tightly to your face,” Sperry explained. “So they are by far more painful, but even some of our acute care nurses are starting to develop what we call pressure injuries behind the back of your ears. And because there’s so very little tissue back there, they become pretty serious, very quickly.”
Nurse Trisha Senrick, who also helped make the headbands, said they are not only much appreciated, but a morale booster.
“We have to wear our masks for 12-hour shifts … and the longer it stays on, the easier a skin breakdown can happen. I myself have experienced pain behind my ears after wearing it for a full day and even some bruising,” Senrick said. “Most of our nurses, especially on the floor I work, wear the headbands and I started wearing a headband probably about three days ago and it’s made a big difference.”
Senrick added: “It’s been very rewarding being able to bring these to staff because we love our own and we want to make sure that they are protected.”
Staff love them, she said.
Also in the goody bag with the headbands: A pack of Extra Gum, with a special message:
“One of the other managers came up with a little note,” Sperry explained, reading it aloud: “It says, ‘Critical care team The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just a little extra. We see the extra you are putting in at the bedside to our sickest patients. Thank you very much.’ ”
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