Loyno alum makes personal protective equipment for healthcare workers in need

Tess Rowland

Photo of the first batch of masks. All masks are made in Brehm’s in-home studio. Courtesy of Kelsey Brehm.

Photo of the first batch of masks. All masks are made in Brehm’s in-home studio. Courtesy of Kelsey Brehm.

Tess Rowland, Pack News

Loyola Alumna Kelsey Brehm can usually be found in the studio of her Uptown apartment making unique lingerie for women of all sizes. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Brehm decided to use her seamstress skills to help fill the lack of personal protective equipment in the medical community by making free face masks for health care workers and first responders amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Brehm, a Miami native, has lived in New Orleans since beginning college in 2013, and considers it to be her home. 

“New Orleans is in crisis mode. I wanted to do more and give back than just staying at home and practicing social distancing,” she said. 

That’s when the stars aligned for Brehm. A friend with close ties to the New Orleans medical community reached out to her asking if she would be willing to make masks that would be distributed to healthcare worker friends. 

Brehm knew that the local hospitals would not accept her handmade masks. LCMC Health group of New Orleans hospitals- which includes Children’s, Touro, West Jefferson, New Orleans East and University Medical Center — said on their website, they will only accept masks that are unopened and in their original packaging. 

Brehm quickly got to work, and in a little over a day she produced her first batch of masks. She made 35 in total. 

“I am so lucky to have my sewing skills to be able to help as many people as possible and do it as quickly as possible,” she said. 

Her masks were delivered to healthcare workers at Ochsner, Touro and senior facilities. 

“I got a message from my friend who said the nurses really liked them, and that they were really beneficial and that they wanted more.” 

In order to make more, Brehm said she is in need of supplies, and will be accepting donations for 100% cotton fabric, 1/8th inch elastic or elastic string, unused twist ties and thread. 

“These items are so hard to find right now. I went to buy more elastic on Amazon and the same company I usually buy it from doubled their price. That’s not where she should be right now,” she said. 

After she has fulfilled the need of PPE for medical workers in the New Orleans area, Brehm hopes to donate her masks to other members of the community, specifically essential workers who may only be able to miss work if they take a sick day. 

“People who are grocery store workers and postal service workers are also out on the frontlines working and they don’t know if they are being exposed to the virus or not,” she said. 

To date, Brehm has made 95 masks and hopes her second batch will consist of 200 masks to be made early next week. 

If you are interested in donating supplies, Brehm will be accepting donations via her Facebook page.

For more COVID-19 coverage, click here.