In early 2020, as the public was just hearing about the Coronavirus outbreak, Dr. Kyle Horton, an internal medicine physician, started researching about this virus and its devastating effect. Through friends and colleagues in the medical community, Dr. Horton was introduced to the Open Source Medical Supplies group. She did her due diligence, and decided starting a local response group for Wilmington, NC was the way to go. Dr. Horton reached out to her friends and acquaintances in the local area to help her with administering a Facebook group to connect those in search of PPE (personal protective equipment) to those who could supply. Mimi Marquis was the lone person out of 20-30 people contacted who answered the call to help. In keeping with the standards of OSMS, and to include surrounding areas, the local response FB group was named Cape Fear OSMS.
What does OSMS stand for? OSMS is the acronym for Open Source Medical Supplies. Why such an odd/non-descript name? Here is the history of how Cape Fear OSMS came to be:
The purpose of the group, as with other local response OSMS groups, was to create a centralized repository of best practices on “home grown” PPE. People from all walks of life throughout the world shared their 3D printing expertise, those with medical backgrounds offered advice on materials to use, and patterns, filters, etc. Facebook group page was the simplest and fastest dissemination of information. Thus, Cape Fear OSMS was born.
Being a former Congressional candidate to the U.S. House of Representatives, Dr. Horton is well known in the community with a large following on social media. The Facebook group page rapidly gained members, all thirsty for answers, and looked to Kyle for leadership on how to help. The mission morphed as quickly as the virus, and instead of networking, Cape Fear OSMS became the organizer of one of the local volunteer groups sewing homemade masks as the supply chain of N95 masks became broken.
Mimi picked up the administration part of the group, creating online forms for volunteers to sign up, for frontline workers to request PPE, and for distribution. Meanwhile, Dr. Horton continued to liaise with the New Hanover County Disaster Recovery Coalition, which had been formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in 2018.
The list of volunteers has grown, and the sewists have donated thousands of masks, drivers have driven hundreds of miles, “cutters” have cut hundreds of yards of fabric, and thousands of face shields have been assembled.
- Brunswick Arts Council – our original partners were sewists from Brunswick Arts Council, led by Mary Beth Livers, the Executive Director, who joined our FB group, and has been providing thousands of masks in Brunswick county. They have jumped in when we needed help fulfilling some requests. They have contributed several hundred masks to Navajo Nation with us, and to DSS children’s masks.
- American Sewing Guild – Cape Fear Chapter members of this guild also sewed thousands of masks for the region. The President, Barbara Fullerton, reached out to our group in May and began helping us fulfill our requests from the community.
- Champions for Compassion: Cover Our Peeps & Threads of Love (formerly Masks for NHRMC Heroes). Also in May, we were finally able to coordinate with these local groups, who have provided thousands of masks for Wilmington, and continue to do so. Currently, Mary Thacker of Threads of Love is working on clear vue masks for the hospital.
- Goodwork Society out of Richmond, VA with local ties at NHRMC in Wilmington, has provided face shields through donations and purchases. To purchase or donate, visit their online store.