University of Lethbridge Department of Drama costume technicians make scrubs for health care workers
Thanks to a fabric donation received 11 years ago, and the enthusiasm and motivation of Department of Drama staff, nurses at Good Samaritan Park Meadows Village supportive living facility are receiving new scrubs and scrub bags in a time of need.
Inspired by a film company in Calgary, James McDowell, University of Lethbridge theatre technical director, asked Costume Shop head, Teresa Heyburn, what she thought of building scrubs for front line workers. With encouragement from department Chair Jay Whitehead, Heyburn reached out to see if there was a need in Lethbridge, connecting with Leslie Jastrau, recreation and volunteer coordinator at Good Samaritan.
“Any kind of thank you is important,” says Jastrau. “When we can help others, it just becomes a circle. At this time, we’re seeing a lot of acts of kindness and this one was a very special one. Receiving a little perk during a difficult time shows that others are thinking about us.”
In order to prevent transmission of COVID-19, nurses remove their scrubs on site, place them in a bag and wash immediately, increasing the wear and tear on these items. Providing new scrubs at no cost is just one way of thanking them for their commitment to the job.
“I’m so impressed that the University and the drama department got behind this idea, because it takes resources,” says Heyburn. “When I told them that Good Samaritan has 150 employees, I asked how much time we could spend on this, and James just said, do it! He didn’t hesitate or ask to crunch the numbers; he was so supportive of our department reaching out to that community and doing whatever we could to help.”
The fabric used to make the scrubs was donated to the University from Susan Perley, owner of a fabric store that had closed down in Vulcan, Alta.
“I remember driving multiple vehicles to Vulcan and filling them with fabric, thinking, will we ever use it?” laughs Heyburn. “Here we are, 11 years later and it’s perfect and it does my heart good to see everything come full circle. The community gives to us and we give back to the community.”
While supporting frontline nurses during a pandemic was the original goal, Heyburn is thrilled to have made a long-term connection with Jastrau, learning about the many needs for handmade items in assisted living facilities — items like wheelchair bags that don’t get caught in the wheels, recliner chair covers, water bottle bags, catheter bags, aprons and more.
Heyburn reached out to costume construction instructor Julia Wasilewski who enthusiastically agreed to incorporate these projects into class assignments.
“These are great projects for introductory sewing classes,” says Heyburn. “And small things like catheter bags use leftover scraps of fabric so it prevents these from going to the landfill.”
Jastrau says supportive living or longterm care facilities in our community have varying needs and encourages anyone wanting to lend a hand to just reach out and ask how you can help.
“While we’re very grateful at Good Samaritan Park Meadows Village, we aren’t the only facility in Lethbridge,” she says. “Approach any nursing centre, because at any of them there will be underprivileged residents. Whether it’s sewing, a small cash donation to pay for a lunch or an outing for the residents, it all helps improve the lives of the residents and staff. If we can help others and they can help us, then together we make a better community.”