Gowns For Frontline Workers

To help reinforce Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s supplies of personal protection equipment, particularly isolation gowns, Darrin Wiggins, MD, vice chair of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s Emergency Department, turned to help from Ken Wright, chairman of the Southampton Hospital Association and owner of Wright & Co. Construction Inc. The two created several prototypes, and hit upon one similar to the isolation gowns currently used by the hospital’s health care workers. That was the first step in a campaign designed to make 20,000 gowns in two-and-a-half weeks.

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital physicians and nurses in protective isolation gowns locally produced and hand-assembled by over 100 East End volunteers, along with support from Riverhead Building Supply, Reilly Architectural, and Wright & Company Construction. Independent/Courtesy Stony Brook Southampton Hospital

To produce them, Wright sought the help of a network of over 100 volunteers, as well as longtime business associates Michael Reilly of Reilly Architectural, a division of Pella Corporation; Tracy Kappenberg, of Riverhead Building Supply; and Leonard Skuggevik, Tuckahoe School’s superintendent.

“No request was too large and everyone eagerly jumped aboard the project,” Wright said. “In these troubled times, for those of us that are staying home, it’s so valuable to be able do something that feels worthwhile, and this absolutely feels worthwhile. Our community wants to do everything possible to support our local health care workers on the frontlines battling COVID-19.”

Riverhead Building Supply donated 300,000 square feet of 2ml polyethylene — almost eight acres of material — along with 10 miles of tape. Since Reilly Architectural’s operations were suspended in compliance with state regulations closing nonessential businesses, several members of the staff volunteered on rotating schedules to cut the gowns inside the company’s Calverton plant. In less than a week, they had received the donated materials and programmed equipment to cut thousands of pieces.

The next stage sought the help of the volunteers, which included more than 25 employees of Bridgehampton-based Wright & Company Construction, all of whom also donated their time to the mission. Groups packed 50 gowns per bin, along with tape and instructions, and a team of seven drivers delivered them to a network of assemblers who from home constructed 50 gowns per bin. The bagged isolation gowns were stored at Tuckahoe School and will be distributed to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital as needed.

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