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Published on April 16, 2020

Former Gundersen MA finds a way to help COVID-19 response

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No longer able to provide patient care, Mandi Wolfe found a way to help protect patients and staff from coronavirus disease 2019.

Wolfe, 42, of Onalaska, was a medical assistant in the float pool at Gundersen Health System until July 2016, when a nerve disorder left her in constant pain and unable to work.

"I loved my job," she said. "I miss it every day."

When COVID-19 reached the U.S., Mandi made fabric face coverings to keep her friends and family safe using a sewing machine and instructions gleaned from YouTube videos.

In late March, she heard about a hospital calling for face coverings. Concerned about her former colleagues, Wolfe called Gundersen to see whether there was a similar need.

"Jill (Blokhuis) said, 'Yes, absolutely,'" Wolfe said. "She emailed the pattern and I got to work."

Wolfe sewed 80 face coverings for our patients, visitors, nursing home residents and non-patient care staff and another 85 for friends and family.

"I physically can't tolerate being mobile for very long, so I make a few masks, then take a break for a hot bath or rest for a few hours, then make a few masks, then take a break, repeat, repeat, repeat," she said.

Now a high-demand item, Wolfe is waiting on a shipment of 50 yards of elastic to sew another 100 face coverings to donate.

"My favorite thing was helping people at work," she said. "I can't do that anymore, so this is my way of helping. I'll make as many as I can get the supplies for."

To learn how you can make face coverings or support our COVID-19 efforts in other ways, visit www.gundersenhealth.org/COVID-support

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